It was a day of firsts for Jelena Ostapenko at the French Open on Thursday. It was her first day as a twentysomething—the match happened to be on her and Timea Bacsinszky’s birthdays—her first Grand Slam semifinal and, with her 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3 victory, her first trip to a major final.
That wasn’t all.
With the three-set win, the Latvian became the first player from her country to reach a Grand Slam final, the first unseeded finalist at Roland Garros since Mima Jausovec in 1983 and the youngest player to reach the final in Paris since Ana Ivanovic did it in 2007.
The world No. 47, who has never won a title on the WTA tour, is also the lowest-ranked French Open women’s finalist since the advent of computer rankings in 1975.
Ostapenko went for it in the first set, hitting 21 winners and 16 unforced errors and sealing the tiebreaker with a pretty backhand volley. In the second, the more experienced Bacsinszky—who reached the semis here in 2015—settled down and raised her level. Ostapenko had a 3-2 lead, but the Swiss won the next four games to level the match. Ostapenko double-faulted on set point to send the semifinal into a decider.
Ostapenko was in control in the final set, not allowing her missed opportunity in the second to negatively affect her mentally. On her second match point, she belted a forehand winner—her 50th of the match—to send Bacsinszky home and continue her unthinkable run into the championship match.
In the title match, Ostapenko will meet third seed and world No. 4 Simona Halep. Halep defeated Karolina Pliskova in the second semifinal, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Halep has never won a major, but she did reach the final in Paris back in 2014. If Halep defeats Ostapenko, she will become No. 1 in the world for the first time in her career. If Ostapenko wins, Angelique Kerber will retain the top ranking.
On Friday, watch live coverage of the men's semifinals on Tennis Channel, home of the 2017 French Open.