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Jelena Ostapenko a surprise champ at French Open

By Bill Scott | AP Published: June 12, 2017 4:00 AM

PARIS -- Jelena Ostapenko upset the form book as she defeated Simona Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday to win the French Open and claim the first title of her career.

Victory for the No. 47 from Latvia, who turned 20 only this week, denied Halep the chance to take the top WTA ranking as well as claim her first Grand slam title.

"I'm really happy to be Latvian and represent my country," Ostapenko, who will move to 12th in the world, said. "I'm so happy to win here, I cannot believe it.

"It was my dream always and now it came true."

German Angelique Kerber, who exited in the first round in Paris, will remain atop the rankings.

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Ostapenko recovered from a set and 3-0 down to reverse the momentum of the third seed who also played the 2014 Roland Garros final, losing to Maria Sharapova.

"I was trying to enjoy the match and fight for every point," Ostapenko said. "That really helped me.

"Staying aggressive, I knew I would feel my game again and make less mistakes. I was nervous on the inside but I came back fighting and I'm really happy.

"Simona maybe felt a little bit nervous because she had a lot of pressure. That also helped me. But in the deciding moments, I played pretty well.

"I still have to improve some things and to get better as player. And I will work hard to climb the ranking and to maybe win some more titles."

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Ostapenko, who lived on the edge for the full two hours as she went for her shots, came out ahead in the second set to end four breaks in five games, securing a 5-4 lead. A game later she sent a winner to the corner to square the match.

Halep seemingly regained control, breaking in the final set to earn a 3-1 lead, only to lose serve in the next game after missing on three chances for a 4-0 lead.

Ostapenko began her final push, reaching 5-3, and scored the biggest win of her career a game later with an untouchable winner on match point.

"I was very close to take the first Grand Slam and also number one in the world," Halep said. "It was a little bit of like emotional moment, but that's it.

"I think it was a good tournament. To play final, it's an amazing thing.

"She played really well, all the credit. She was hitting very strong. At some point I was like a spectator on court. She deserved to win.

"It's a tough moment for me, but it's gonna go away, I hope, with the time. I will keep working, because I really want to repeat what I have done this tournament. We will see what is gonna be."

Ostapenko becomes the first player to win a debut tour level title at a Grand Slam since Gustavo Kuerten did it on June 8, 1997 -- the day Ostapenko was born.

The Latvian is the youngest Roland Garros champion since Iva Majoli, who was 19 years, 300 days in 1997.

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