Ostapenko edges battle of birthday girls to reach final


Unseeded Jelena Ostapenko was given 100-to-1 odds by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook before the French Open, and she will face Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, the 30th seed, who was 30-to-1.

In a battle on their birthdays, Jelena Ostapenko and Timea Bacsinszky competed through three sets in the semifinals of the 2017 French Open before 20-year-old Ostapenko punched her ticket to her first Grand Slam final with the win.

"It is an wonderful feeling, I'm so happy. I think it's a nice gift!" said Ostapenko, who is ranked 47th in the world.

"I was scared, because they told me that it's broken", said Halep, who said she still feels pain during matches.

But Ostapenko played fearlessly in the decider and pounded away a 50th clean victor to become the first Latvian player to reach a grand slam final.

Ostapenko's forehand, which this fortnight has averaged three miles per hour faster than Andy Murray's, had helped her blast her way past Sam Stosur and Wozniacki in the previous two rounds.

The second seed did find a way through to get the match back on serve at 3-4 but Halep broke immediately again and went on to set up a clash with 20-year-old Latvian Ostapenko. "Attitude better. I think I'm different player, and I'm much stronger than 2014".

"But then I was just trying to be calm and just to try to play my game and just enjoy every moment". "I don't know what to expect from her".

In a remarkable quirk of fate, both women were playing arguably the biggest match of their careers on their birthday.

It seemed unlikely that Halep would even be able to play at Roland Garros after the Romanian tore a ligament in her right ankle during her loss to Elina Svitolina in the Italian Open final.

What needs to happen for either player to become world number one?

Logic suggested the steady approach she adopted after losing the first-set tiebreak would get the job done for the experienced Swiss, not the white-knuckle rollercoaster tennis Ostapenko was playing. But first up, India's Rohan Bopanna will be in action in the mixed doubles final with his Canadian partner Gabriela Dabrowski against Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Robert Farah. "Is she mature enough to play Bacsinszky and not just close her eyes and blaze away?"

If Pliskova beats Halep she jumps to World number one ahead of Serena Williams and current World number one Angelique Kerber. If Pliskova beats Halep, she will have the top spot; Halep must beat Pliskova and win the championship to gain the No. 1 position.

"It's an incredible feeling right now", said Halep after her fifth win in six meetings against Pliskova, the world number three. I have the mentality to win, but it's going to be tough.