Sharapova floors Halep to win second French Open title

Russia's Maria Sharapova celebrates as she wins the French tennis Open final match against...

Russia's Maria Sharapova celebrates as she wins the French tennis Open final match against Romania's Simona Halep at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris on June 7, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD)

Julien Pretot, Reuters

, Last Updated: 11:26 PM ET

Maria Sharapova claimed her second French Open title when she floored Romanian fourth seed Simona Halep 6-4 6-7(5) 6-4 after a marathon encounter in Saturday's final.

The seventh seed from Russia claimed her fifth grand slam title after Wimbledon 2004, the 2006 US Open, the 2008 Australian Open and her first Roland Garros title two years ago.

Halep, who had not lost a set entering the final, put up a great fight but bowed out after three hours and two minutes - the longest women's final in Paris since 1996.

Sharapova wrapped it up on her first match point when Halep could not return one of her opponent's sizzling forehands.

"This is the toughest grand slam final I have ever played. I respect Simona a lot, I thought she played an unbelievable match today," Sharapova said with smudged mascara under her eyes.

"I can't believe it, seven or eight years ago I would not have thought that I would win more Roland Garros than any other grand slam.

"To think I won it twice... I'm so emotional now I can't talk."

The wily Romanian had forced a decider just as Sharapova seemed to have ended her resistance.

The Russian, however, had won the last 19 three-set matches she had played on clay since losing to Justine Henin in the third round at Roland Garros in 2010 and made it 20 with a characteristically gutsy display.

Halep, hoping to become the second Romanian woman to win a grand slam title after her manager Virginia Ruzici won at Roland Garros in 1978, broke in the first game of the match when Sharapova sent a backhand long despite having an open court at her disposal.

Sharapova unsettled Halep with her crosscourt shots but the Romanian held on for 2-0.

The Russian bombarded Halep with powerful forehands and managed to break back for 2-2 on her fourth chance when Halep's crosscourt backhand went wide.

Sharapova's third double fault gave Halep another break point, which the Russian saved with another forehand winner down the line before holding for 3-2 after four deuces.

The Russian broke for 4-2, went to 5-2 and then lost two games before taking the set on her opponent's serve when Halep fired a crosscourt forehand wide.

Sharapova won the first game of the second set to love and broke in the second with the contest seemingly heading for a swift conclusion.

Halep would not give up, however, and broke back by forcing Sharapova to net a backhand as the crowd roared "Simona, Simona".

They exchanged four breaks in a row as the set went into a tiebreak and the clock ticked past the two-hour mark. Halep went 5-3 down but then scored four points in a row to send the match into a deciding set.

Sharapova saw off two break points in a hotly contested fourth game and went on to break Halep's serve screaming "Davai!" (come on), only to double fault yet again as the Romanian levelled for 4-4.

In a third set where the serve counted for little, Sharapova broke to love to move one service game from the title and fell to her knees in celebration as Halep sent a looping backhand wide.

"It's my first grand slam page, emotionally it's difficult," said Halep, last year's most improved player.

"I hope there will be many more but this one will be special for me all my life. Congrats Maria you're a great champion."

MARIA SHARAPOVA

Born: April 19, 1987 in Nyagan, Russia

GRAND SLAM TITLES: Five -- Wimbledon (2004); U.S. Open (2006); Australian Open (2008); French Open (2012, 2014)

MAKING HER NAME

Born in Siberia, moves to Black Sea coastal resort of Sochi aged two.

Moves to Florida in 1996 to train at Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy in Bradenton. Sharapova's father Yuri moves to U.S. with her but mother, Yelena, has to stay in Russia due to visa restrictions.

Turns professional in 2001.

TENNIS CAREER

Wins first tour title at Tokyo in 2003. Finishes inside top-50 for first time.

Becomes first Russian woman to win Wimbledon in 2004 aged 17, beating defending champion Serena Williams 6-1 6-4 in the final.

In August 2005 becomes first Russian woman to reach the top of the world rankings.

Wins her second grand slam after defeating second seed Justine Henin 6-4 6-4 in the 2006 U.S. Open final.

Beats Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 7-5 6-3 in 2008 to win her third grand slam title, and first Australian Open.

Regains number one ranking by beating Petra Kvitova in their semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2012 before defeating Sara Errani 6-3 6-2 in the final to complete her collection of grand slam trophies.

Wins a silver medal in her Olympic debut at the 2012 Games in London, losing the gold-medal match against Williams 6-0 6-1.

Wins fifth grand slam title at 2014 French Open.

OTHER NOTES

Undergoes shoulder surgery in 2008 and has a nine-month injury layoff.

Misses second half of 2013 season with a shoulder injury.

Is the richest woman in sport and with more than 13 million fans, she is the most followed female athlete on Facebook.


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