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Unseeded Ostapenko tops Halep at French Open for first title

WE WERE promised a surprise, and we sure got one.

After receiving the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen on Saturday afternoon, it took a few moments for the newly crowned French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko to realise it was customary to lift the trophy above her head.

Yesterday was the final of the women's #french open where three-seeded #Simona Halep faced-off against unseeded #Jelena Ostapenko in a battle for their first Grand Slam.

Consider: Last year in Paris, Ostapenko lost in the first round.

Unseeded she came through striking a remarkable 245 winners in her run into the championships match to which she added another 54 in the final as she fought back from a nervy start to defeat the third seeded and more experienced Romanian, 4-6 6-4 6-3 to become her country's first grand slam victor.

She would have emulated her manager Virginia Ruzici who won the 1978 Roland Garros title. So should we evaluate the Latvian as we would any other promising-but-not-elite 20-year-old? Ostapenko also made history, becoming the first Latvian to ever reach a semifinal or final in a Grand Slam event.

"She only has one game, either I can't touch it or it flies one metre out". Following her historic victory, her Elo rating rose to 2,045, the 16th-best mark on tour.

In only her 18th match in one of the four majors, the 20-year-old Latvian fought back in audacious fashion from a set and 3-0 down to blaze past the experienced Romanian. Fortunately for her, these young Slam winners have tended to improve more after their teenage years than did a similar group of players who failed to win majors early in their careers.

Kuerten's 1997 victory came on the day Ostapenko was born.

Perhaps the relatively boutique feel to Auckland's ASB Classic will continue to be Ostapenko's preferred destination when she starts preparations for next year's Australian Open. I've just enjoyed it so much. And if she can manage to climb 220 points-equivalent to what Ms Sharapova accomplished between her first major win and her 2007 high-water mark-that would put her close to the current ratings of Ms Sharapova and another returning star, Victoria Azarenka.

"She's a great champion". "Now, this year, I've become the Roland Garros champion".

Ostapenko certainly was ready, sooner than even she could imagine. In 2002, the average age of Grand Slam entrants was 23; today, it is nearing 26.

"Everybody knows she can play very good, but I think nobody expected (her) to (do) what she did", said Anabel Medina Garrigues, who began coaching Ostapenko in April.

"I'm going to shop a little bit but I'm not going to insane", she said.