The 2014 French Open is packing up and set to leave Roland Garros after two thrilling weeks of tennis.
No player was safe in France, with three of the game's brightest stars being ousted in the opening rounds. Though a familiar champion ultimately emerged on the women's side, a fresh face arrived on the title picture in a gallant losing effort.
Maria Sharapova slipped past Simona Halep during the championship clash, but both competitors should leave Paris with their heads held high after a sensational title match.
Of course, what's a Grand Slam tournament without Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic meeting for the crown? The familiar foes will joust in the final match once again on Sunday, with the King of Clay hunting for his ninth French Open title.
Even the deal closed on that enticing bout, this year's French Open was full of drama.
|Rafal Nadal def. Andy Murray||6-3, 6-2, 6-1|
|Novak Djokovic def. Ernests Gulbis||6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3|
|Maria Sharapova def. Eugenie Bouchard||4-5, 7-5, 6-2|
|Simona Halep def. Andrea Petkovic||6-2, 7-6 (7-4)|
|Sharapova def. Halep||6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4|
For the full French Open results, check out RolandGarros.com.
Sharapova Bests Halep in Intense Final
Maria Sharapova earned her second French Open title in three years, outlasting Simona Halep in three tightly contested sets with the trophy hanging in the balance.
In the first three-set women's French Open final for 13 years, Sharapova mustered a tough victory over her 22-year-old adversary, who was competing in her first Grand Slam final. The victor took the first and third sets by a score of 6-4, but dropped a grueling second set at 6-7 (5-7).
"This is the toughest Grand Slam final I've ever played," Sharapova said after the win, per USA Today's Douglas Robson. "All respect to Simona. I thought she played an unbelievable match today."
As WTA's Twitter account noted, the 27-year-old is giving Nadal a run for his money on clay with her recent string of success on the surface.
Despite her hot hand, Sharapova enjoyed few easy slates en route to claiming her fifth career Grand Slam title. Each of her last four matches went the full three sets, and she twice dug herself an early deficit.
While announcing Halep's arrival as a future star in defeat, the win cements Sharapova's rightful spot as one of the women's division's marquee performers. Over the last decade, only Serena Williams has enjoyed more Grand Slam success, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Since Maria Sharapova won her 1st Grand Slam title in 2004, only Serena Williams has won more women's single titles— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 7, 2014
Besting Williams in head-to-head action is the next step for Sharapova's ascension to the top of the ladder. Sharapova is a career 2-16 against the top-seeded legend, but a stunning upset helped her avoid facing her rival at Roland Garros.
Stars Suffer Early Exits
Tennis typically follows the same blueprint, resulting in the top competitors hogging all the spotlight and championship glory. Sports fans who enjoy a good upset welcomed the reprieve that saw a No. 1 player and both 2014 Australian Open champions ousted early in the tournament.
The heavy favorite to successfully defend her French Open championship, Serena Williams was instead handed a pink slip in Round 2, falling in two 6-2 sets to 20-year-old Garbine Muguruza.
Despite the stunning loss, Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou expressed his confidence that she will quickly bounce back when speaking to the Associated Press' Howard Fendrich, via ABC News.
She's definitely the kind of person that, when something bad happens to her, is always able to react. It's really something that she has in herself. When she has a bad loss or she's really down ... it's also a source of motivation for her to come back even stronger. So I have no doubt that she will tell me very soon that she wants to get ready to go back to work and win again.
To further aid Sharapova's cause, Li Na dropped her first-round bout to Kristina Mladenovic, losing 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 in her first match since capturing a championship at Melbourne. These major stunners opened the door for Sharapova's title run.
In comparison, Stan Wawrinka's departure was not as shocking of a development. The reigning Australia Open champion came to Paris on a sour note, having struggled in his last two tournaments at Madrid and Rome.
Even if the 29-year-old wasn't expected to once again knock off Djokovic and Nadal, he figured to at least escape the first round. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez stunned the No. 3 seed in four sets, earning a 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 victory
According to ESPN Tennis, such a high seed had not suffered such a premature elimination at Roland Garros for quite some time.
Going forward, the erratic champion must show some consistency in order to join the exclusive ranks of men's tennis' elite performers.