Saturday, June 7, 2014 7:25 pm
Fourth seed Maria Sharapova today claimed her second French Open title in three years after coming through a dramatic three-set win over first time French Open finalist Simona Halep.
Sharapova will become world number two as a result of her 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 win over Halep, who will be rewarded for her sterling French Open campaign by rising to third spot when the new WTA rankings are published on Monday.
Halep headed into her first grand slam final without losing a set but the Romanian was up against a former champion making a third successive final appearance in Paris.
The experience told in the first set, as a double-fault from Halep after she had broken back to 5-4 from 5-2 down allowed Sharapova to take the opening set 6-4.
Sharapova held a record of 40 wins from 41 previous matches in which she won the first set, also winning her last 19 matches at the French Open that had gone to three sets.
And Sharapova looked primed to run away with the second set and title after quickly taking a 2-0 lead, only for Halep to break back and level the set at 2-2 before breaking Sharapova again in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead.
Sharapova however broke Halep’s serve in the very next game to send the second set to tie-breaks. Halep though would come out on top as unforced errors from Sharapova forced a compelling final to a deciding third set, the first three-set final since Jennifer Capriati beat Kim Clijsters in 2001.
Both players then remained in sight of each other after the first eight games of the third set until Sharapova got the crucial break to take a 5-4 lead, at which point she held her serve to love on her way to clinching the title after over three hours on centre court.
Sharapova has now won five grand slam titles having won each of the other grand slam titles once; the French Open now being the first she has won twice.