It wasn't easy, and it certainly wasn't pretty, but Maria Sharapova officially claimed her second French Open title after a riveting women's final in Roland Garros.
The five-time Grand Slam champion dispatched No. 4 Simona Halep, who was in her first major final, by a final score of 6-4, 6-7(7), 6-4. Both women showed passion and strength, but it was ultimately Sharapova making history for her country with the historic win, as TennisNow points out (per WTA):
Interesting stat (via @WTA): If she wins, Sharapova would be the first Russian (male or female) to win the same Grand Slam multiple times.— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) June 7, 2014
Sharapova now officially sits near the top of the women's throne yet again, yet still behind Serena Williams. But after the American was dispatched in the second round of the tournament, Sharapova is inching closer along with Halep, who played brilliant tennis throughout the French Open.
After her second French Open championship in three years, Sharapova appears to be playing her best tennis on the clay surface. But with two more major tournaments coming in Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, can Sharapova earn her second Slam in either of those competitions?
With the women's bracket coming to a close in Roland Garros, here's a look at how the final shaped out and what it means for both players.
|No. 7 Maria Sharapova def. No. 4 Simona Halep||6-4, 6-7(7), 6-4|
Women's Final Breakdown
Sharapova was undone at times by sloppy tennis throughout the match, but was never out of a single set thanks to her strong defensive play.
Her ability to close on several occasions also led to winning multiple points throughout the match. While she stumbled during the second set, Chris Fowler of ESPN notes that the Russian has been dominant in the final set over the years:
Say what you will about Sharapova.. And you will.. She's one of the great final set players ever. 26 of last 27. 19 straight on clay. Wow— Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) June 7, 2014
Both women traded blows during the huge match, with multiple break points deciding the three sets. Sharapova's double faults were often what kept Halep in the match, but the Russian's experience shined through in the final set as she ousted the Romanian.
Tracey Myers of CSN took note of the ridiculous swings in the match:
Sharapova-Halep: the match where momentum lasts about a set. Maybe.— Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN) June 7, 2014
As for the reaction after the final point, Roland Garros captured Sharapova's emotions following the match:
Will Halep or Sharapova win at Wimbledon?
Though it was a special moment for Sharapova, it was a heartbreaking one for Halep. The 22-year-old had never been to a Grand Slam final before Saturday, but showed her strength as a player by pushing Sharapova to the limit in all three sets.
Sharapova spoke about her competition following the match, per NBC's broadcast, "All respect to Simona. She played an unbelievable match today."
Adam Perkins of Vavel.com provides his thoughts on Halep's performance in the final:
She may have lost, but Halep deserves just as much credit as the champ. She will be winning a Grand Slam soon.— Adam Perkins (@Adam_Perkins3) June 7, 2014
Halep spoke candidly following the match about how she hopes to return to a final in the future. At just 22 years old, the Romanian certainly has the firepower and resilience to make it back in the coming years following a strong showing in both Grand Slams this season.
Whether it's at Roland Garros next season or potentially Wimbledon later this month, Halep will remain a contender in the women's game. Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated points out that emotions clearly were running high for Halep after the final:
Feel for Halep. Nice to see a first-time finalist so thoroughly resist "just happy to be here" syndrome— Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) June 7, 2014
Sharapova, on the other hand, looks like a favorite yet again to contend for another final at Wimbledon. With a championship already at the famous court, the Russian now has a chance at making history with a sixth Grand Slam and second Wimbledon title.
Both women came away looking like contenders for the remainder of the year. Halep continues to climb up the ranks in women's tennis while Sharapova is claiming her place as one of the best in the sport.
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