French Open 2017: Simona Halep advances to final over Karolina Pliskova
Halep will face Jelena Ostapenko, who beat Timea Bacsinszky earlier Thursday
The French Open's women's singles final is set: Simona Halep will square off against Jelena Ostapenko on Saturday at Roland Garros. The winner of the match will earn the first Grand Slam of her career. Halep defeated Karolina Pliskova in three sets on Thursday, hours afterPliskova had a resilient match, battling back from deficits throughout, but Halep ultimately proved to be too much, taking the match 6-4 3-6 6-3.
There's a great deal on the line for Halep in Saturday's final. She is currently ranked fourth in the world behind Angelique Kerber, Serena Williams and Pliskova. If she is able to capture the Grand Slam against Ostapenko, there is a very real possility that she will close out the week ranked No. 1. Nothing is guaranteed, however, as Ostapenko has been surging throughout The Open. Ostapenko's aggressive style will clash against Halep's formidable deep game, and the match may come down to who ends up blinking first and has to adapt their respective styles.
After a difficult first set in which she fell to Halep, Pliskova battled back to level the match at one set apiece. Ultimately, Pliskova's early errors proved to be a difference maker. The Czech had 24 unforced errors in the first set, putting her in a hole. Despite finishing the set strong and taking that momentum into the second set, Pliskova began to sputter in the third set. After falling into a 4-1 hole, Pliskova managed to get the set to 4-3, before Halep took the reigns back and didn't relinquish them for the rest of the match. Halep kept Pliskova deep on the court in the late stages of the match, and needed only one of two match points to put Pliskova away and advance to face Ostapenko.
Pliskova's fight never died out. She found herself trying to fight her way out of error after error throughout the match. After making 55 unforced errors throughout the match, a long return ended up being the final volley. Pliskova fought off three break points in the second set to force the third set. In the third set, Halep broke yet again, but Pliskova managed to hold with an ace. Halep proved to be too much, however, and was able to grind Pliskova out. Once she started to pick up steam, it was clear that playing uphill had taken its toll on Pliskova, and Halep took her final two games with relative ease.
All-in-all, it was a grueling day for Pliskova and one that tested Halep's fortitude. However, with the final now set, Halep can turn her attention to Ostapenko, claiming the No. 1 seed and her first Grand Slam. Ostapenko, meanwhile, is going to be focused on her first Grand Slam event. She has proven time and time again that she is very much an "in the moment" tennis player. The matchup presents a lot of interesting variables, as Ostapenko has already proven that she can play against highly-ranked players. They will square off at 9 a.m. Saturday at Roland Garros.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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