Maria Sharapova has won her second French Open title in three years over Romanian fourth seed Simona Halep in a marathon encounter 6-4, 6-7 (7/5), 6-4 at Roland Garros on Saturday.
It is the Russian‚Äôs fifth Grand Slam championship in her career, but for the first time, the 27-year-old has won the same major twice. Sharapova has more victories at the French Open (50) than at the other three Grand Slam tournaments.
Sharapova, who completed a career sweep of all four Grand Slam titles in Paris in 2012 before losing to Serena Williams last year, also moved to number two on the all-time prize money earnings, with only the American ahead of her.
‚ÄúThis is the toughest grand slam final I have ever played. I respect Simona a lot. I thought she played an unbelievable match today,‚ÄĚ Sharapova said. ‚ÄúI can’t believe it, seven or eight years ago I would not have thought that I would win more Roland Garros than any other grand slam. To think I won it twice … I’m so emotional now I can’t talk.‚ÄĚ
Halep, 22, might have been playing in her first Grand Slam final but she pushed the 2012 champion to the limit. Sharapova has struggled with her serve this week and was broken seven times in the final on Court Philippe Chatrier. However, she was able to hold off Halep, and hold her serve in the final game, with steady groundstrokes that kept the Romanian on the run, reports the Huff Post.
“It’s my first grand slam page, emotionally it’s difficult,” said Halep, last year’s most improved player. “I hope there will be many more but this one will be special for me all my life. Congrats Maria – you’re a great champion.”
The consolation for Halep, whose meteoric rise to the top bracket in women’s tennis over the last 18 months has projected her as a potential champion, was that she will climb to a career-high third in the world rankings.
‚ÄúI have to be happy, to smile, because I did everything on court,‚ÄĚ Halep said, adding: ‚ÄúI didn‚Äôt expect three sets, three hours, but it happened, and I‚Äôm really happy that I could stay very long time on court. The atmosphere was incredible. Of course, forever I will not forget this match.‚ÄĚ
Halep was trying to become only the second Romanian woman to win a Grand Slam title. Viriginia Ruzici, now Halep’s manager, won the French Open in 1978.
Sharapova famously uttered in 2007 that she felt like a “cow on ice” playing on clay but the French Open has now become her most productive grand slam – it’s the only one she’s won more than once and it’s the only one she’s won after two serious shoulder injuries in 2008 and 2013, says CNN.
‚ÄúIf somebody had told me at some stage in my career that I’d have more Roland Garros titles than any other grand slam, I’d probably go get drunk,” Sharapova later told reporters. “Or tell them to get drunk, one or the other. I feel that I worked to get to this position.‚ÄĚ