Jelena Ostapenko created history on Saturday in front of a packed Philippe Chatrier by becoming the first unseeded player in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam. She stunned third seed and pre-tournament favourite Simona Halep to win her first ever title. The 20-year old had come to the Roland Garros as a virtually unknown young player from Latvia but with heaps of aggression and self-belief. Her attitude clearly reflects in her style of play, an all out winner laden approach, not caring about the unforced errors leaking points. This fearless outlook has been her USP and the main contributor to her unbelievable success at the Slam.
The first two games of the summit clash were breaks of serve as were the fifth and sixth games. The opening set was still up for grabs and at 5-4, the Latvian serving to stay in the set, two unforced errors awarded Halep the chance to take the first lead in the final. Halep seemed to be carrying the momentum into the second set taking a 3-0 lead. A couple of break points to make it 4-0 presented themselves to the Romanian giving an impression that she had found a way to counter her opponent’s onslaught. The exceptionally nerveless Ostapenko wriggled out of the precarious situation in her own style, never fearing, never doubting herself as she continued to hit winners at every opportunity she got. Halep’s strong defense broke down in front of her aggression as the youngster won the next 4 games taking advantage of the butterflies in Halep’s stomach. By then her winners were finding their lines and a 6-4 second set went in Ostapenko’s name.
The third set again saw the Romanian eke out a 3-1 lead which she could not hold on to. From there on everything started falling into place for the unseeded player as she won the next 5 games. Halep serving to stay in the championship looked nervous and the Latvian needed no extra motivation to finish it off with a backhand winner on Halep’s serve, her 299th overall in the tournament.
Halep seemed to be struggling from the very beginning with Ostapenko’s aggressive play. If the third seed managed to put a potential winner back into play, the youngster would hit another winner which would land inside more often than not. Halep could not have expected to rely on her adversary’s unforced errors to win a Grand Slam title, she clearly needed to bring an extra bit to her game. This was her second French Open final loss even as Ostapenko became the first person from her country to win a Major. Is this the beginning of a glorious career for the young girl, only time will tell but as of now she is Philippe-Chatrier’s heroine, not afraid of anything.