Published: Sat, June 10, 2017
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Simona Halep: 'I was scared when I had scan on my ankle'

Simona Halep: 'I was scared when I had scan on my ankle'

"It's always good to have a young talent do well", said Kim Clijsters, who was a day past her 18th birthday when she played in her first Grand Slam final, a 12-10 third-set loss to Jennifer Capriati in the 2001 French Open.

Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko celebrates winning her semi final match against Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky at French Open at Roland Garros, Paris, France on June 8, 2017.

As for who might win, Halep's semifinal opponent, second-seeded Karolina Pliskova, has some thoughts.

Thirtieth seed Bacsinszky, who needed a bandage applied to her right thigh midway through the first set, looked the more likely victor at that point as she sought to celebrate her 28th birthday by surpassing her semi-final run of 2015.

The world No 47 is the first unseeded player to reach the final in Paris since Mima Jausovec in 1983.

The world number four is aiming to win her first grand slam after successfully defending her Madrid Open title. When the victor that year, Maria Sharapova, was not granted a wildcard into this year's event Halep, who had won Madrid and reached the final in Rome, was elevated to outright favourite.

Another straight-sets win followed, this time over Lesia Tsurenko - who had defeated Angelique Kerber's first-round canquisher, Ekaterina Makarova, in her previous match - with the result ensuring she'd reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time. "I'm just happy with the way I celebrated my birthday!" said Ostapenko as the crowd sang "happy birthday" to her.

In her six matches at the French Open, Ostapenko leads all players with 245 winners - and that includes the men's French Open semifinalists Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem. I'm really happy to be through to my second semi-final here.

Bacsinszky won the last four games to wrap up the second set 6-3.

Ostapenko crunched 50 winners to Bacsinszky's 22 but her raw attacking instinct also brought 45 unforced errors to the Swiss counter-puncher's 19.

"He actually called my mom". The Romanian comes to her second French Open final at optimal confidence, and infinitely greater comfort on clay than the Danish defender.

Should she win on Saturday, she will be the first player since Justine Henin in 2005 to take a singles' title at Roland Garros after saving a match point. I think more about the game, and I play smarter, in my opinion, and also physically. "Sometimes she was getting a little too emotional".

She is the first Latvian to reach a Slam final, going one step further than Ernests Gulbis in 2014 when a young Ostapenko was in his players' box as he beat Roger Federer in the quarter-finals in Paris.

"I think probably I will have a lot of attention when I come back home".

Will youth help her hit through the pressure or will Halep's experience contesting her second Roland Garros final in the last three years benefit the Romanian?

"Tomorrow I'm going to practise and get ready for the final".

"Of course she has nothing to lose; it's a big thing for her what is happening", Halep told the New York Times about Ostapenko.

"I remember seeing her in the past", Bacsinszky noted after their semifinal.

"I don't think we can ever see another guy like this", Kuerten said. I'm thinking just that it's a normal match. 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. "But of course, I take the pressure because I like it".

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