Halep and Ostapenko win thrilling semis to reach French Open final

Halep and Ostapenko win thrilling semis to reach French Open final

The Romanian's 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory sets a final clash with 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko and leaves Halep one victory from her first Grand Slam final and the WTA's No.1 ranking as well.

On Thursday, she will face No. 2 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, a 7-6 (3), 6-4 victor over No. 28 Carolina Garcia of France.

Halep, who lost to Maria Sharapova in the 2014 final, was thankful still to be in the tournament after her remarkable recovery from a set and 5-1 down against Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals.

Earlier, Ostapenko won her birthday battle against Bacsinszky to become the first unseeded woman to reach the French Open final for 34 years.

This was the prediction of former two-time Grand Slam champion Mary Pierce, who was speaking to Singapore media by phone from Paris on Thursday evening (8 June), on the same day when the French Open women's semi-finals will be played.

Ostapenko fell in the first round on her main draw debut in Paris past 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. Don't get me wrong, I'm very disappointed today, as well, but I think I'm looking at things from a different perspective.

"I felt a little bit tight because it was a semi-final", she said.

"It's a great way to celebrate my birthday".

Halep showed the full extent of her defensive skills to beat Pliskova and reach her second French Open final. Her successful all-or-nothing approach saw her fire 50 winners and 45 unforced errors against Bacsinszky.

With Bacsinszky serving at 3-5 Ostapenko, coiled like a spring, brought up two match points with an unstoppable backhand return that cleaned the baseline then smote a rasping forehand return victor that left her opponent flat-footed.

Ostapenko will also play for her first Grand Slam title after she beat Timea Bacsinszky earlier on Philippe-Chatrier.

"I really happy, I love to play here and I'm just happy the way I celebrate my birthday", Ostapenko grinned.

The Czech said: "I don't want to be frustrated after this match, because I lost to somebody who is the best on clay right now at the time and in a semi-final at Roland Garros".

"I was always playing aggressive and trying to hit the ball when I can". If Halep can get past Pliskova and then go on to win the title, she'll be the new No. 1.

Ostapenko had never been past the third round at a major until this week but she didn't let the occasion faze her as she took the first set on a tiebreaker.

With points stretching in the third, the key break resulted at 4-3.

Thiem dumped out defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia yesterday while Nadal is aiming to win a record 10th title at the French Open.

"I'm really happy to be in the final, especially on my birthday".

Both players struggled on their serve in the final set, which had six of the 16 breaks in the match.

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