French Open: Ostapenko beats Bacsinszky to meet Halep in final

Ostapenko, the world number 47, is the first unseeded player to reach the final in Paris since Mima Jausovec in 1983.

Jelena Ostapenko is over the moon on reaching her first Grand Slam final.   -  AP

Jelena Ostapenko became the first Latvian Grand Slam finalist after blasting past Timea Bacsinszky 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-3 in the French Open semifinals on Thursday. She will meet third seed Simona Halep, who downed Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, in the title clash.

Ostapenko, the world No. 47, is the first unseeded player to reach the final at Roland Garros since Mima Jausovec in 1983.

The Latvian, who turned 20 on Thursday, is also the youngest woman to advance to the final of a major since a 19-year-old Caroline Wozniacki finished runner-up at the 2009 US Open.

"I am really happy. I love to play here, I love you guys, you're amazing. I'm just happy with the way I celebrated my birthday!" said Ostapenko as the crowd sang 'happy birthday' to her.

"I was always playing aggressive and hitting the ball when I (had) a chance. It probably (helped) me to win today."

Ostapenko fell in the first round on her main draw debut in Paris last year but is one win away from becoming the first player since Gustavo Kuerten in 1997 to win their maiden tour-level title at a Slam.

Kuerten won that year's French Open -- the first of three Roland Garros titles for the Brazilian -- on the same day Ostapenko was born.

Swiss 30th seed Bacsinszky, celebrating her 28th birthday with a second semifinal appearance in three years in Paris, broke Ostapenko for an early 2-0 lead.

But the Latvian took the challenge to Bacsinszky with her aggression, nipping ahead at 4-3 before the Swiss called for the trainer.

Bacsinszky complained of a problem above her right knee after jarring her foot in the clay and resumed play with her leg heavily taped.

Ostapenko faltered when she tried to serve it out at 6-5, but the Latvian took the tie-break with a swinging backhand volley.

Ostapenko, whose average forehand speed of 76 mph this tournament has eclipsed that of Andy Murray (73), continued to let fly with a bombardment of winners and errors.

Bacsinszky pounced as Ostapenko's radar misfired to break for 4-3 in the second set before the Latvian gifted it to her with a double fault on set point.

But Ostapenko's fearless approach paid off after a series of breaks to start the decider, the Latvian landing the crucial blow to pull 4-3 ahead before sealing victory in two hours and 25 minutes.

Her successful all-or-nothing approach saw her fire 50 winners and 45 unforced errors against Bacsinszky.

HALEP BEATS PLISKOVA

Halep showed the full extent of her defensive skills to beat Pliskova and reach her second French Open final.

The third seed, who will become world No. 1 if she defeats Ostapenko in Saturday's showdown, benefited from her opponent's unforced errors in the first set before Pliskova rediscovered her touch.

Overwhelmed by Pliskova's power in the second set, Halep regained the momentum in the decider, frustrating her second-seeded opponent with her ability to soak up punishment.

She ended the contest on her first match point with an unreturnable serve to reach her second Roland Garros final after losing the first one to Maria Sharapova in 2014.

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