Young Latvian Jelena Ostapenko going for French Open women’s singles title
PARIS — Jelena Ostapenko is a young woman in a hurry.
On the day she turned 20, Ostapenko became the first unseeded French Open finalist since 1983, using big and bold groundstrokes to end points lickety-split on the way to beating 30th-seeded Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-3 on Thursday.
“Her life is like this: Everything very fast,” said Ostapenko’s coach, former pro Anabel Medina Garrigues. “Hit fast. Walk fast. Talk fast.”
It’s true. How quickly did this come together for Ostapenko, the first tennis player from Latvia to reach a Grand Slam final? Not only is this just her eighth major tournament, and not only had she never been past so much as the third round at one before this week, and not only did she lose her opening match in Paris a year ago, but she has yet to win a tour-level title of any sort.
“I mean, when I came here,” Ostapenko said, her words spilling out with nary a pause in between, “of course I didn’t expect I would be in the final.”
In Saturday’s championship match, the 47th-ranked Ostapenko will face Simona Halep of Romania, who got past 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
While Ostapenko is assured of making her debut in the top 20 next week thanks to her surprising showing at the French Open, there is more at stake for the No. 3-seeded Halep: In addition to a chance for Grand Slam title No. 1, a victory would allow the 25-year-old to seize the No. 1 ranking for the first time, too.
This is the second major final for Halep, the runner-up to Maria Sharapova at Roland Garros three years ago.