Maria Sharapova won her second French Open title after beating Simona Halep © AFP
Seventh seed Maria Sharapova of Russia beat Romania's fourth seed Simona Halep 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 to win her second French Open title. Catch highlights here:
22:10 (IST): "Congratulations to you, Halep. Reaching the final at Roland Garros here is a big step for you. This is a dream come true for me. Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I wish I can cut some parts of this trophy and give it to my team. It wasn't easy to win. Didn't want my parents to watch this being superstitious. But I am sure my Mom is watching", says a Sharapova overcome by emotions.
22:05 (IST): "My first Grand Slam final speech and I'd like to congratulate Maria and wish her luck for future. Thank you for everyone from Romania who has turned up here to support me in this final. I'd also like to thank my team and wish we can make many more Grand Slam finals in the future," says a very humble Halep.
21:59 (IST): The crowd at Court Philippe Chatrier gives a huge cheer to Halep, bigger one than Sharapova! She deserves all of it today. And now Sharapova seems to be crying holding the coveted French Open title! A minute for the Russian national anthem!
21:47 (IST): Seventh seed Maria Sharapova beats 4th seed Simona Halep of Romania 6-4, 6-7, 6-4 to win 5th Grand Slam title! Thanks for being with us but there's still more as we wait for the prize distribution ceremony. Sharapova has jumped into the crowd to hug her father and her team and she is ecstatic, just like she was when she won her first major title at Wimbledon in 2004 at 17 years of age, beating Serena Williams. "Halep played an unbelievable final. It's the toughest I have ever played. It's a dream come true to win my 2nd French Open title", says Sharapova after the win.
21:44 (IST): Sharapova breaks Halep to love and she will now serve for the championship at 5-4! Great backhand winner! It was perfectly placed far beyond Halep's reach on the left side of her baseline and with the cross-court angle, was only going away from her.
21:40 (IST): That's a disaster from Sharapova! A double fault gives Halep the break back! It's 4-4 in the final set now. Both ladies seem to be getting tired after all the hitting. Meanwhile, Simona Halep has a heated discussion with the chair umpire as they check a disputed call on the baseline, coming off Sharapova.
21:34 (IST): Halep hangs tight, holds serve to reduce lead to 3-4 in the final set. She is still down a break though. The spectators love this, it is getting a bit hot there at Court Philippe Chatrier now, the ladies are wiping their necks to remove the sweat but the crowd still wants more. Loving this!
21:31 (IST): Sharapova consolidates her break in style by holding serve to love. She leads 4-2 now, final set (6-4, 6-7, 4-2). Halep makes it worse by dropping in a double fault in her next service game. 30-30.
21:27 (IST): Sharapova gets the crucial break of serve in the final set! She leads 3-2! (6-4, 6-7, 3-2). Sharapova definitely looks the stronger out of the two now as Halep looks exhausted with all the hitting. Sharapova has been a bit smarter in her approach and she has been taking the ball slightly early on each occasion, thus saving her of some vital energy.
21:24 (IST): This has been a marathon match! After four more deuces, Sharapova finally holds serve and makes it 2-2. We are told by the commentators on TV that the longest women's singles final at Roland Garros clocked 3 hours and four minutes. We are already two hours and 43 minutes into this one, by the way!
21:13 (IST): Halep holds serve, leads 2-1 in final set vs Sharapova (4-6, 7-6, 2-1). We have a dream setting for the final today at Court Philippe Chatrier! Great match too!
21:09 (IST): Halep breaks back now! 1-1 in the final set! We also just had a time violation warning for Sharapova. She is taking way too much time between serves. There is a 25-second limit but Maria wants to take off all the pressure surrounding her and is taking her time!
21:05 (IST): Sharapova strikes first in the final set, breaks Halep to lead 1-0 (6-4, 6-7, 1-0). Do you know that this is the first time since 2001 that the French Open final has gone to three sets? The last time it went to three sets, Jennifer Capriati won 1-6, 6-4, 12-10 over Kim Clijsters. And then, it's a fairytale! Kim Clijsters won the women's legend doubles today with Martina Navratilova at the 2014 French Open!
20:55 (IST): Halep wins second set 7-6 vs Sharapova to level things up in this women's singles final. One set all now. That was a great tiebreak from Simona Halep! She was trailing 4-2 and that is usually a decisive lead in such situations, especially in a final. But then Halep hasn't yet lost a set this year at the French Open and we all knew she could get right back into this match. We are all waiting for a great deciding set then to conclude this match! Remember there will be no more tiebreaks. The first lady to be ahead by two games in case of a 6-6 situation will be the winner.
20:51 (IST): Oh dear! 5-5 now in the tiebreak! Halep is maintaining her consistency from the back court and getting it inside play most of the time. Sharapova goes way wide on the forehand. She is losing her patience!
20:45 (IST): Sharapova's fierce forehand drive on Halep's right side of the court gives her a 4-2 lead in the tiebreak as players change ends. Halep struck her defensive return into the net.
20:43 (IST): Sharapova smashes it into Halep's body and breaks back! We are into a second set tiebreak (6-4, 6-6). Sharapova makes amends for dropping the first point on her serve in the tiebreak by getting all two points off Halep's serve. She leads 2-1 now in the tiebreak with a mini-break!
20:40 (IST): In a crazy round of events, Halep breaks Sharapova again and will serve for the 2nd set at 6-5, once more. Are you all hooked onto this final? It promises to be a great one from here.
20:35 (IST): Sharapova breaks back and breaks Halep's heart right there. 5-5 in the second set now! It all ended in a very unlucky manner though for Halep as Sharapova's ambitious strike far from the baseline went into the net and then gobbled over to land just near the net, far from Halep's reach.
20:28 (IST): Incredible tennis from both players! That last rally where Halep took an advantage before getting this crucial break off Sharapova was just mind-boggling! It was also the longest rally of the match, by the way. 20 strokes! It had Sharapova running back, Halep coming forward, Halep going back and getting that last blow in the end that landed just on the very right corner of the baseline! Halep was already off-guard when she made that shot! That said, Halep will now serve for the second set at 5-4 and to make it 1 set all in this great women's singles final.
20:23 (IST): After some astonishing shots, Halep holds serve to make it 4-4 in second set vs Sharapova. Halep made a great backhand cross court drive into Sharapova's right hand corner and it was placed perfectly to move away from Sharapova! That one particular point where she took an advantage before winning the game was just out of the box!
20:16 (IST): Sharapova is tiring Halep down with her brutal baseline assault. She holds serve and leads 4-3 now in the 2nd set. That last rally had Halep defending time and again from the back court but Sharapova kept coming back with that one extra shot and it was enough to force Halep to make an unforced error. Halep's first serve percentage of 51 is not doing her too many favours either. Sharapova's first serve percentage is 62, not too good again, but then with the amount of service breaks we have seen in this match, it is just about good.
20:11 (IST): Halep gets a great pass on the left side of the court and ties things up at 3-3 in the 2nd set. It was almost a down-the-line winner but then it had elements of that perfect pass, she took it on the rise! Great going then for Halep, she is keeping things tight in this second set and ensuring Sharapova doesn't run away with the title here.
Maria Sharapova © AFP
20:07 (IST): Sharapova keeps it on serve and now leads 3-2 in the second set vs Halep (6-4, 3-2). Sharapova is gunning for her fifth Grand Slam title. Halep is in no mood to give up though, she is looking for her first major title.
20:01 (IST): After a long rally, Halep finally holds serve to tie it up at 2-2 in the 2nd set (4-6, 2-2). The crowd seems very happy at this fightback from Halep! And why not, the crowd at all Grand Slams have always rooted for the underdog. They want to get full value of the price they paid for their tickets.
19:57 (IST): Halep fights her way back, breaks back Sharapova in the second set to bring things back on serve (4-6, 1-2). Do you know the last Romanian woman who won the French Open title back in 1978, Virginia Ruzici, is now Halep's manager? She must be happy to see this.
19:53 (IST): Another long game ends in an early break of serve for Sharapova, who now leads 2-0 in 2nd set. (6-4, 2-0). Halep's head is dropping a bit now. By the way, none of the eight Grand Slam finals Sharapova has contested so far in her career, have gone to the third set. Sharapova has won four out of these.
19:47 (IST): Sharapova holds her serve and now leads 1-0 in the second set and by one set to love. Halep is getting very moody with her shots now. She is also taking a lot more chances on her first serves and some of them are going way wide. Halep leads 30-15 now in her next service game though. And some wonderful ball-striking from Sharapova makes it 30-30. Sigh! She caught that one nice on the half-volley to smack it for a winner on the far right side of the baseline!
19:41 (IST): Sharapova wins first set 6-4 vs Halep after a series of service breaks. 57 minutes on the match clock. This could go longer than the second men's semifinal between Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray yesterday, which despite being a five-set match, took only one hour and 41 minutes to reach its conclusion. Catch highlights here.
19:35 (IST): Halep breaks back! Sharapova has to wait a little longer if she wants to win this 1st set. 4-5 now and on serve. Great serve out wide then to start things up for Halep in her next service game! It had great speed and Sharapova could just bend to her right and strike it absolutely nowhere. 4-5, 15-0.
19:31 (IST): Halep holds on to make it 3-5 in the 1st set vs Sharapova, who will now serve to take the lead in this final. Sharapova down 15-40 now though. Can Halep make this even more interesting?
19:27 (IST): Sharapova consolidates her break of serve and forces Halep to serve to stay in the 1st set at 2-5. What a great comeback from the Russian! We know, however, that Halep is not introducing any variety to her game. If at all she had been a little more experimental with her slices and her drop shots, the story would have been different.
19:24 (IST): It's a break of serve again! This time, it's Sharapova who has the last laugh. She leads 4-2, 1st set. This one didn't take that long, Sharapova lost the first point but then won four in a row to get the crucial break.
19:19 (IST): Sharapova holds serve after breaking Halep back to level things up in this 1st set. She leads 3-2 now. Well, if you believe me, there were not three but four deuces this time and Sharapova just made it in the end. She struck a nice backhand cross-court shot from the baseline deep into Halep's left side of the court and Halep's rescue sliced return just went away from the baseline. There you go, great match!
19:09 (IST): Sharapova breaks back vs Halep! It's 2-2 in the 1st set of this amazing final now. Great baseline attack! There were three deuces in that last game before Sharapova kept her calm and converted her fourth break-back opportunity. Halep, on the other hand, had struck gold in her very first break point chance when she won the opening game of the match.
19:00 (IST): Sharapova holds serve after a great rally. She trails 1-2 in first set vs Halep and is down a break of serve. Halep has to do something different here. She has to use some more drop shots and also some more sliced returns if she has to keep Sharapova on the backfoot. The seventh seed has started to move a lot better and is understanding Halep's next moves now.
18:54 (IST): Halep consolidates an early break of serve after fighting off deuce vs Sharapova. She leads 2-0 in the first set now. It is easy to point out that Halep has been getting the ball nice and deep for Sharapova and her down-the-line winner attempts have been brutal so far. She seems naturally suited to clay. Sharapova is also moving well on the baseline though.
18:49 (IST): Simona Halep breaks Sharapova to win the opening game of this final. Leads 1-0, first set. Halep looks much more confident with her baseline strokes and she is hitting the ball cleanly. Sharapova, on the other hand, is having a tough time tackling Halep's pace from the back court. Interesting match on the cards!
18:34 (IST): Sharapova makes her way first into Court Philippe Chatrier being the 7th seed. Fourth seed Simona Halep then walks in to a huge cheer from the crowd. Can Halep win her maiden Grand Slam title today? We will know the answer within a couple of hours. Players having their warm-up now. They are fighting for a mouth-watering prize money of 1.65 million euros.
18:15 (IST): Just 15 minutes to go before the players make their way into Court Philippe Chatrier for this big final. We will bring you all the updates.
17:57 (IST): The last Romanian woman to win the French Open was Virginia Ruzici in 1978. She beat Mirna Jausovec of Yugoslavia 6-2, 6-2. The last man from Romania to win at Roland Garros was Ilie Nastase in 1973. He has also written a famous book called 'Tiebreak'.
17:43 (IST): Simona Halep may be an underdog coming into this final match but let's not forget she's seeded ahead of Sharapova at fourth and managed something last year that's only been done by Steffi Graf. Imagine winning all your first six WTA titles in a single calendar year and Halep did it easily, beating strong opponents one by one, all in a matter of straight sets.
17:35 (IST): Remember when Maria Sharapova beat Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final while she was just 17 years old. She has been a sensation in women's tennis ever since. Can she get her fifth Grand Slam title today against Romania's Simona Halep?
The French Open final on Saturday between Russian superstar Maria Sharapova and Romanian upstart Simona Halep sees a stark contrast in styles and status.
The 27-year-old Russian is the biggest name in women's sport, a global icon, and the holder of four Grand Slam titles, the last coming in Paris two years ago when she became just the sixth woman in the Open era to complete a career sweep of the major titles.
Halep, an unassuming 22-year-old from the Black Sea port city of Constanta, will be playing in her first Grand Slam final, having struggled, like many before her, to make the transition from junior to senior level.
Sharapova will tower over her opponent at 1.88 metres (6 feet 2 inches) compared to Halep's 1.68 metres (5 feet six inches). But all the signs are there for one of the most intriguing French Open women's finals in years and, many hope, the first to go to three sets since Jennifer Capriati defeated Kim Clijsters 12-10 in the third in 2001.
Halep, who has broken into the top bracket of women's tennis in the last 18 months, has by far the most impressive figures of the two in this year's tournament. She has reached the final without dropping a set, while Sharapova in her last three matches has had to go all the way after losing the first set.
How Sharapova and Halep Made the Final
Sharapova, the 27-year-old seventh seed and winner in Paris in 2012, again showed her never-say-die spirit in downing fast-rising Canadian Eugenie Bouchard 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Halep, a 22-year-old from the Black Sea port city of Constanta who has broken into the top bracket of the women's game in the last 18 months, was too strong for Germany's Andrea Petkovic, winning 6-2, 7-6 (7/4).
Sharapova, the biggest-earning sportswoman in the world, will be gunning for a fifth Grand Slam title, having completed her career Grand Slam sweep in Paris two years ago.
Halep, who once underwent breast reduction surgery to improve her game, will become the first Romanian since her manager Virginia Ruzici 34 years ago to contest a Grand Slam final.
The Roland Garros finalists have played each other three times with Sharapova winning all three. (Read more)
Maria Sharapova - A Shining Star for Ten Years Now
Maria Sharapova exploded onto the international scene 10 years ago as a 17-year-old with a spectacular straight sets demolition of Serena Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final. On Saturday at Roland Garros she hopes to end a decade of top tennis by defeating Simona Halep of Romania for her fifth Grand Slam title.
All the signs are there for one of the most intriguing French Open women's finals in years and, many hope, the first to go to three sets since Jennifer Capriati defeated Kim Clijsters 12-10 in the third in 2001. Sharapova is admirative of the Romanian's all-court game.
"I think in the last year she's proven that's she's able to have great results consistently," she said. "And in terms of ranking and where she's positioning herself, I think that's a very great quality in a player, to be able to be so consistent from week in week out.
"I think she won six titles last year. That's pretty impressive. So obviously to be in that position, I mean, she deserves that. That's a position I want to be in, you know, so I'm gunning for that."
Halep for her part believes that her play in reaching the final, without dropping a single set, validates her first ever appearance in a Grand Slam final. The final for her will be the icing on the cake. "Yeah, for sure. I have nothing to lose," she said. "I will keep this in my mind always. I will try to hit very relaxed," she said. (Read more)
Five Things to Know About Finalist Simona Halep
- When she was a teenager she went underwent breast reduction surgery to take her size from a 34DD to 34C. It was a measure aimed at improving her movement around the court.
However, the 22-year-old is reluctant to keep talking about it. "Sorry, but I don't want to speak about this one. It was a long time ago and it's something personal, so I'm sorry. About tennis I will speak with pleasure, but that problem, it's my personal thing. Sorry."
- Her manager is Virginia Ruzici, the only Romanian woman to win a Grand Slam title when she claimed the 1978 French Open. Ruzici was also the runner-up in Paris to Chris Evert in 1980.
- She has footballer's legs. Well, that's what her coach Wim Fissette reckons.
- She plays tennis but doesn't watch a lot of it, neither live nor on TV
- Halep is the first player since Martina Hingis at the 1997 Australian Open to reach her first Grand Slam final without dropping a set (and Hingis went on to win that final in straight sets).