Photo: Paul ZimmerMaria Sharapova (RUS)
ROLAND GARROS, PARIS: Maria Sharapova won her second Roland Garros title after recording a 64 67(5) 64 victory over No. 4 seed Simona Halep in Saturday’s final.
It was a closely fought encounter from beginning to end with the two players battling it out for three hours two minutes – just two minutes short of the longest women's Roland Garros final on record – in the baking sun on Court Philippe Chatrier.
The Russian struggled with her serve throughout the match - recording 12 double faults and dropping serve seven times - but showed her mental strength when it mattered. She won five games in a row after losing her serve early in a high-quality first set which lasted 57 minutes to record the early advantage.
Despite breaks in the second set the pair could only be separated by a tiebreak, with the Romanian winning four straight points to fight back from 5-3 down and draw the match level. Halep certainly had the support of the crowd, with regular chants of ‘Simona, Simona’ echoing around the Parisian stadium.
Sharapova led with a break for most of the third set until Halep, who was contesting her first Grand Slam final, levelled proceedings at 4-4 thanks to a double fault from the Russian. It was the last time the scores would be the same however as Sharapova played some fierce shots to break her opponent once more and then produced a clinical game to serve out the match.
Sharapova has now won five Grand Slam singles titles which puts her joint-11th with Martina Hingis on the list for most major titles.
This is the toughest Grand Slam final I have ever played and all respect to Simona, she played an unbelievable match today," said Sharapova. "I feel that I worked to get to this position. There's nothing else. There is no substitute in these titles. You can't just go out there and just do it without putting in the effort, putting in the work."
"I was smiling because I said that it was my first Grand Slam final, and I have to be happy, to smile, because I did everything on court," explained the Romanian, who will climb to No. 3 in the rankings on Monday. "I played very good tennis, very good level. So I'm really proud about these two weeks. They were incredible weeks here and incredible tournament."
The French had something to celebrate on Saturday evening when the pairing of Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin won the men's doubles title, defeating Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez of Spain 63 7(1) in the final. They are the first all-French pairing to win the men's doubles here since Henri Leconte and Yannick Noah in 1984.