Saturday, June 07, 2014

2014 FRENCH OPEN: Sharapova Defeats Halep To Win 5th Major, 2nd FO Title

As I predicted, Maria Sharapova won her 2nd French Open title today by defeating Simona Halep of Romania in 3 sets, 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4 in a little over 3 hours. The win was Sharapova's 20th consecutive 3-set win on clay and her 50th win at Roland Garros, far behind Steffi Graf's record of 84 wins at the clay court major. It was the Russian's 5th major title and 32 WTA tour title of her career, and third of the year (StuttgartMadrid, and Paris), all on clay. She is now considered the most successful clay-court player of the last few years, with a 20-1 record at Roland Garros and and a 57-4 record  on the surface over the last three years (all three losses to Serena Williams who shockingly loss in the 2nd round).

It was Sharapova's 9th major final (5-4 overall record) and the match was one of the best finals played in recent history on any surface, with wild swings of momentum and epic comebacks. Halep was down 6-4 and 2-0 when she was able to come back and even the score then served for the second set at 5-4 and 6-5 but was unable to close out the second set. Sharapova led 4-2 in the tiebreak but Halep fought back to even the score at 5-all by getting her first serve in and taking pace off the ball. Two points later she had won the second set and the match as dead even. Sharapova left the court for a curiously long 6 minutes to change her outfit and unravel her less experienced opponent. It seemed to work when Sharapova began the 3rd set with an easy break, but Halep brok back and held t finally go ahead on the scoreboard 2-1 in the 3rd set. Halep had two breakpoint opportunities for 3-1 but failed to convert and once Sharapova got back to 2-all she broke and held to go up and had what seemed like an insurmountable lead at 4-2. Halep again rallied to hold her own serve and broke Sharapova to even the match again at 4-all but that momentous effort was all she had and from that point on she failed to win a single point, losing her serve at 0 and looking on helplessly as Sharapova nailed the lines and her ball sprayed the court as the Russian served out the championship game at love.

Sharapova's 5 titles matches Martina Hingis and Althea Gibson and puts her only two behind Venus Williams and Justine Henin's 7.

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