World No. 4 Simona Halep has become known for her defense, but Maria Sharapova showed the best of both worlds, offense and defense, in defeating the Romanian 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4 on Saturday in 3 hours, 2 minutes in the second longest women’s final at the French Open.
The 6-foot-2 Sharapova used her eight-inch height advantage over Halep to hammer baseline winners that made the difference, despite serving nerves that resulted in double-digit double faults.
Halep served for the second set twice before finally winning in a tiebreak. In the third Halep had great difficulty holding serve against the Russian’s baseline bashing, but broke back to even the set at 4-4. But in the next game Sharapova broke Halep at love and held for the victory.
“I am so emotional right now I don’t know what language to speak,” Sharapova said on court after showing her French fluency. “I wish I could cut this trophy up and hand a piece to you all,” she said to her team box.
Sharapova went 19-1 during the claycourt season with three titles. It was her fifth career Slam and second French Open title and she’s won 20 straight 3-set matches on the clay including the last four in Paris.
The win also was her 5oth at the French Open, and her two titles equal her with rival Serena Williams.
Halep was playing in her first career Grand Slam final. The Romanian hadn’t dropped a set until the final and has now lost all four matches with the Russian, the last two in three sets.
“It’s my first Grand Slam speech, so emotionally it’s really difficult for me,” said Halep who’ll move to No. 3 in the World. “But I wish to have many more. But of course this one will be very special for me all my life.”
Sharapova’s now won five Grand Slam titles (all in even years) and 32 for her career. The 27-year-old begins the second half of the season ranked No. 5 but has virtually no points to defend for the rest of the year.
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