Ostapenko wins birthday battle with Bacsinszky to reach French Open final

Halep will now face Jelena Ostapenko, who defeated Timea Bacsinszky 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3 in the other semifinal, in Saturday's final.

Romania's Simona Halep advanced to the French Open semi-finals for the second time in her career with a 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-0 come-from-behind victory over Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.

Ostapenko, who celebrated her 20th birthday on Thursday, had never won a match at the French Open before last week. "She played very well, we were both serving well", said Pliskova after reaching her first semi-final in Paris. "I think it's a nice gift!" said Ostapenko, who is ranked 47th in the world.

"I was just trying to stay aggressive and to go for a shot when I could", Ostapenko said.

- Romanian Simona Halep reached her second final at Roland Garros with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory over Karolina Pliskova. A title would be sufficient for Halep to achieve that, with a final appearance for Pliskova.

Serena Williams, the 23-times major champion, is pregnant, double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is just back after being stabbed, five-times major champion Maria Sharapova has only recently returned from a doping ban and former world number one Victoria Azarenka has been out after having a baby.

After facing early danger on her own serve, the third seed looked assured when starting off the points, while challenging Pliskova's. 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.

Ostapenko fell in the first round on her main draw debut in Paris past year but is one win away from becoming the first player since Gustavo Kuerten in 1997 to win their maiden tour-level title at a Slam. "But I was working on the forehand, and I think it's pretty good now", said a grinning Ostapenko.

Yet Halep took that setback in her stride to put the squeeze on a tiring Pliskova as she surged into a 4-1 lead in the decider. Instead of meekly losing her last game, the Romanian showed she could fight like a tiger.

The Latvian powered her way to a 7-6 (7/4) 3-6 6-3 victory to become as the youngest player to reach a grand slam final since Caroline Wozniacki in NY eight years ago.

She didn't even know how dire things were at that moment.

Ostapenko crunched 50 winners to Bacsinszky's 22 but her raw attacking instinct also brought 45 unforced errors to the Swiss counter-puncher's 19.

Would the memories of that loss be healed if Pliskova could take the number one spot from Kerber? "I felt that I had to run for every ball, be focused for every ball".

With the number-one ranking and the prospect of a first Grand Slam title on the line, it was Halep who grasped the opportunity.

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