Radio Sandwell Sport

Maria Sharapova beats Simona Halep to win French Open

2014-06-07 20:08:52

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova drew on her fighting spirit once again to beat Simona Halep in a dramatic final and win her second French Open title.

The Russian came through 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 in three hours and two minutes at Roland Garros.

It was the fourth match in a row that saw Sharapova clinch victory in a final set.

She has now won five Grand Slam titles, taking her to joint-11th on the all-time list alongside Martina Hingis.

"This is the toughest Grand Slam final I have ever played and all respect to Simona, she played an unbelievable match today," said Sharapova.

"Maria Sharapova will be number five in the world, but
she is now a five-time Grand Slam champion, drawing
level with Martina Hingis, and has proved to be one of
the feistiest clay-court competitors around.

 

"Simona Halep will be bitterly disappointed after coming
back and, boy, did she push Sharapova close, but she
was not quite strong enough at the end."

Halep, 22, might have been playing in her first Grand Slam final but she pushed the former world number one to the limit.

Sharapova had been a study in intensity throughout the fortnight in Paris, happy to take on the mantle of favourite after Serena Williams' early exit, and in the end her will to win pulled her through as much as her ability.

Five games in a row put her in control of a high-quality first set that lasted 57 minutes, as her weight of shot just held the balance of power over Halep's speed of foot.

But the Romanian fourth seed was fighting back in the latter stages and did so again in the second set, the pace and angles she created keeping Sharapova off balance.

Halep won a stunning rally at 4-4, deuce, that had the crowd chanting "Simona! Simona!" - not for the last time - but she was broken straight back thanks to a cruel net cord and it came down to a tie-break.

It looked as though the experience of Sharapova, playing in her ninth Grand Slam final, was about to tell when she moved 5-3 ahead, but under constant pressure from Halep she produced four errors in a row.

Maria Sharapova

For the first time since 2001, the French Open women's final would require a final set, and the Court Philippe Chatrier erupted as they played on into a third hour.

There was a time violation for Sharapova early in the decider as her fragile serve became an ever-lengthier process, and she let a lead slip for the second time in the set with a double fault at 4-3.

Halep might have felt it was her moment, but Sharapova has learnt to move on swiftly from such errors.

She played a brilliant return game, backhand and forehand winners taking her 5-4 in front, and as the match time passed three hours dug deep to at last find a clinical service game.

The Russian thumped away a drive volley to earn three match points and then sent down a serve that Halep could only return into the tramlines, as Sharapova willed it to drop wide.

 

Source: bbc.co.uk

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