PARIS (AP) — Simona Halep looked to be on the verge of claiming her first Grand Slam title as well as the No. 1 spot in the rankings.
Then it all fell apart.
Facing the unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in the French Open final, Halep took the first set and led 3-0 in the second. She then had three break points to move to 4-0.
She eventually lost the match 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in her second final at Roland Garros.
"It's a tough moment for me, but I hope it will go away with time," said the third-seeded Halep, who is from Romania.
Their final on court Philippe Chatrier lasted 2 hours and it was a roller coaster of a match. As usual, Ostapenko took all the risks, and had the same number of winners and unforced errors at 54.
Halep hung in there for a while, but once Ostapenko started to play close to the lines and to limit her mistakes — she had only 13 in the decider — she was tough to overcome.
"I was losing 6-4, 3-0, and then in my mind I was just, I'm just going to enjoy the match, and I will try to fight until the last point," said Ostapenko, the first unseeded woman to win the title at the French Open since 1933. And then I stayed aggressive and the match turned my way."
Ostapenko was hitting the ball so strong that her shots left Halep groggy.
"At some point I was like a spectator on court," Halep said.
A victory at Roland Garros would have secured the world No. 1 ranking for Halep. Her coach, Darren Cahill, said it would have been a "nice bonus" but that this possibility did not add stress to her preparations.
"Today it was about winning the match," Cahill said.
Halep, who lost her previous French Open final three years ago against Maria Sharapova, did say that she was aware of the situation.
She said on court that she had been "sick in the stomach with emotion" then said at a news conference the 24 hours preceding the final were "tough."
"I was very close to take the first Grand Slam and also No. 1 in the world," she said. "This one hurts a lot maybe because I realize more what is happening. Three years ago it was something new, so now I know. Hurts a lot, and I need time just to, I don't know. To go away."
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