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Halep - Ostapenko to clash in French Open final

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Women's No. 3 seed Simona Halep of Romania will return to the final at Roland Garros after three years with a three-set victory over second-seed Karolina Pliskova, while Latvian promising star Jelena Ostapenko got a perfect birthday gift as she overcame fellow birthday girl Timea Bacsinszky in the women's singles semi-finals in Paris.

After top seed Angelique Kerber's early exit, Halep and Pliskova were involved in a tense battle for top spot in the WTA world rankings. A title would be sufficient for Halep to achieve that, while a final appearance would have been enough for Pliskova.

After producing an epic comeback in the quarter-final clash with Elina Svitolina, the Romanian maintained her momentum on the clay court and showed her advantage in power against a much taller opponent to take away the opening set 6-4 after a poor forehand from the No. 2 seed went outside on Thursday.

"At the beginning, I was serving pretty bad there, and I suffered two double faults in that game. This is one match that could be totally different from the beginning," commented Pliskova.

Pliskova, also in quest for the world No. 1 place, bounced back in a 6-3 win in the second set. However, it was Halep who got the upper hand as she won the decider 6-3.

Halep finished a total of 14 winners against her 14 unforced errors, while Pliskova's 55 unforced errors cancelled out her 45 winners.

"Today was a great battle. Every point was very important. I felt that I had to run for and focus on every ball," said Halep, who made her last appearance in the final at Roland Garros in 2014.

"To be in the final, it's just about happiness. I feel proud, because I think the mental part helped me a lot this tournament in all matches," she added.

"In the third set, everything was through the long rally, which is better for her and she's winning on a higher percentage definitely," Pliskova pointed out.

The other semi-final featured two players that celebrated their birthdays on game day. Ostapenko, who turned 20, became the first Latvian to reach a Grand Slam final with a 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3 victory over the 28-year-old Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland.

"I'm really happy to be in the final, especially on my birthday. It's a nice gift," said Ostapenko, who earned her maiden appearance in the final of a Grand Slam tournament.

She was also the first unseeded player to reach the final at Roland Garros in 34 years, according to the Women's Tennis Association (WTA).