Halep rides comeback, Djokovic falls in French Open semis

If a place in the French Open final were not a big enough prize, the world number one spot will also be at stake when third-ranked Karolina Pliskova meets number four Simona Halep at Roland Garros on Thursday.

Paris: Simona Halep is targeting the world number one ranking in Saturday's French Open final but fast-rising Latvian upstart Jelena Ostapenko threatens to crash the Romanian's party as a first-time major champion will be crowned.

Czech second seed Pliskova would have become world number one next week had she won the second semi-final.

Not since Mima Jausovec in 1983 has an unseeded player reached the French Open final, while Ostapenko is the first Latvian grand slam finalist and the youngest at any slam since Caroline Wozniacki eight years ago.

Halep defeated Karolina Pliskova in three sets on Thursday, hours after Ostapenko celebrated her 20th birthday by defeating birthday buddy Timea Bacsinszky.

Now ranked 47th in the world, Ostapenko was able to get by the 11th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals, the 23rd-seeded Samantha Stosur, the unseeded Lesia Tsurenko, world number 40 Ekaterina Makarova and American Louisa Chirico in the opening round to reach the finals. "I'm a competitor, and it really annoys me not to be in the final", said Bacsinszky, who was beaten on her 28th birthday.

Only Venus Williams had taken a set off Bacsinszky at the tournament prior to that and she hit back with a clinical second-set showing in which she made just four unforced errors.


Three-times French Open champion Mats Wilander has watched Ostapenko's progress while working for broadcaster Eurosport and has liked what he has seen. It was her 50th victor of the match, which also saw her make 45 errors.

Although she could not convert a couple of set point chances on the Czech's serve, Halep looked after her own and looked comfortable on her way to a 6-4 win.

Ostapenko turned 20 on Thursday and fans on Court Philippe Chatrier sang "Happy Birthday" to her.

Earlier, India's Rohan Bopanna and Canada's Gabriela Dabrowski saved two match points to claim their first Grand Slam title with victory in the mixed doubles final.

Pliskova then broke to level the set but Halep broke straight back to leave the Romanian serving for the match.

Halep, who lost to Maria Sharapova in the 2014 final, was thankful still to be in the tournament after her remarkable recovery from a set and 5-1 down against Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals. "It probably helps me to win today". In her first 17 Grand Slams, she never went beyond the third Round. "I think I'm different player". But there was nothing lucky about the way she prevailed in the biggest match of her career.

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