French Open 2017: Jelena Ostapenko reaches first Grand Slam final with hard-fought win over Timea Bacsinszky

French Open 2017: Jelena Ostapenko reaches first Grand Slam final with hard-fought win over Timea Bacsinszky

In a match frought with nerves, it was the young Latvian who came through to reach her maiden major final.

John Lupo

Jelena Ostapenko reached the French Open final with a 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3 victory over 30th seed Timea Bacsinszky. The Latvian is the youngest singles finalist in Paris since Ana Ivanovic in 2007 and is the first unseeded Roland Garros finalist since Mima Jausovec in 1983.

Ostapenko wins first set in a tiebreak

Bacsinszky took control early with a relatively easy hold and then a break of serve. After Ostapenko saved the first break point with a booming serve, a clever drop shot by the Swiss gives her a 2-0 lead. The Latvian immediately broke back when Bacsinszky sent a passing shot long.

In the seventh game, Ostapenko led 15-40 on the Bacsinszky serve and after saving the first, another blazing backhand winner gave Ostapenko the lead. After Bacsinszky called the trainer for her knee, she had her quad wrapped up and came out to immediately break to level the set.

Breaks were becoming the theme of the set and Ostapenko secured what appeared to be the critical one in the eleventh game only to see Bacsinszky peg her back while serving for the set to head into a tiebreaker.










The Latvian achieved the first minibreak with another powerful forehand down the line before Bacsinszky levelled up proceedings at 3-3. Staying aggressive, Ostapenko's cross court backhand set up a winning return of serve, part of a run that saw her get to 6-3.

After missing the chance to close out matters on her first set point, she took the opener with a volley winner, the now 20-year old taking the tiebreaker 7-4, a set away from her first major final.

Bacsinszky levels the match

The Swiss began the second set with a break, the seventh game the server had dropped out of the first 13 only to see Ostapenko square things up with yet another break.  Finally, both players were able to hold and with the set finely balanced at 3-3, the 30th seed made her move.










After falling behind 40-0 on the Latvian's serve, Bacsinszky fought back to deuce and a pair of forehands struck into the net gave the Swiss a 4-3 lead. A battling hold, aided by unforced errors from Ostapenko, put the 30th seed a game from leveling the match and she did so after a double-fault gives her the set 6-3 to set up a one-set showdown for a spot in the final.

Ostapenko continues to dictate, reaches final

The server continued to struggle heading into the final set as three straight breaks of serve started the decider. It was Ostapenko's second break that proved to be decisive as she continued to boss the rallies and she forced Bacsinszky into a missed backhand to grab a 2-1 lead.

In the longest game of the match, featuring five deuces, Ostapenko managed to fight off the Swiss' defenses to consolidate her break for a 3-1 lead. Growing tired as the Latvian's powerful strokes were getting to her, Bacsinszky made one final comeback to knot the final set at 3-3 with a brilliant backhand of her own.

Finally, it was Ostapenko who took firm control, her shots landing in as the winners kept the 30th seed under pressure and after yet another break, she holds to love for a 5-3 lead. One final succession of winners on the Bacsinszky serve give the Latvian a final break and with it a spot in the final against third seed Simona Halep.

Post-match comments

Following the match, Ostapenko spoke about her historic victory: “The match was really tough, I think it was a battle. I'm really happy to be in the final, especially on my birthday. I think it's a nice gift!.. “I was just trying to stay aggressive and to go for a shot when I could. I think it was kind of important that I won the first set, even the second I lost, but in the third set I found my game again.”

For her part, Bacsinszky reflected on her chances in the first set while complimenting her friend and opponent: “If I could be only disappointed on one aspect of the match it's some opportunities I had in the first set. I created myself some opportunities, but on the other side of the net she was playing quite well, and she was defending very well everything I was proposing.”