Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Here we are, so soon at the close of another French Open at Roland Garros.

So much has happened, of course!  Winners, losers, lovers in Paris, disappointments, joy and laughter. Strength, collapsed legs, spirit, grit. Admit it, this is why we love this game. It has it ALL.
Official French Open site with all the news!
This year weather conditions have been the wind, as opposed to last year with rain.  Most players like to hit against the wind, this way they can put more into their shots.  Makes sense.

Some Background

I am especially tuned in to Romanian Simona Halep (5'6") this season. I saw the entire quarterfinal three set match versus Elina Svitolina (5'9"), and believe that the events that transpired there have served to propel Halep to her place in the Women's Final. 

We have heard this before, but it is belief that has gotten Halep to the Final.  All these players are good, so what sets one player apart from another? Belief, firstly.  Knowing the game, secondly.  Knowing what to look for.

In that first set in the women's quarterfinal, Halep was down 0-5. Then, she crawled back point by point and the set closed in Elina's favor at 6-3.  No matter.  What did this do for Simona? Plenty.  She found grit and determination on the court. Belief.  Ironically I was in that exact situation several weeks ago against a USTA player who will advance to 4.0 level.  I am a 3.5 singles player, not there yet for 4.0. In my match, at 0-4, I too began to observe her weaknesses, her blasting forehands were beginning to break down, and I took advantage to win some games, also closing my first set at 3-6.  I know what it is like out there on the court, and it is tough.  

What Simona did next was win the next set in a tiebreaker, and the third set she bagels her opponent at 6-0!  Who knew??  I personally am not there yet, I lost my match being outplayed, but the happy ending to this story is that there is strength in belief and that is what Simona Halep, and her coach Darren Cahill teach us mere mortals. Now we have to get out there and do it. 

Back to the Present

25 year old and number 4 player in the world Simona Halep wins her semi-final and thus stands once again on the clay for the Final against 20 year old number 47 in the world player Jelena Ostapenko (5'10") of Lativa.

Here we go, as it happened~


Both Halep and Ostapenko are sporting identical Adidas outfits, a great warm up shirt with elbow length sleeves, cute green and white colors and fitted tops.


Halep wins the coin toss and serves first; she loses her first point.  Does the first point portend the outcome of the match? I often wonder about this, we shall see. 0-30 now. Tactic: Ostapenko is bold out there getting to net. 83% have been winning short points for Ostapenko. Ostapenko wins this first game, breaks Halep, 1-0.

Ostapenko serves. Cute green headband.  Tactic: Second serve and Halep returns down line for a winner. A tough shot to create and even tougher to get. 0-30. Nerves. Halep returns beautifully.  Ostapenko’s forehand breaks down more than her backhand. Fault. 0-40..15-40 now. This is a game, tough to relax! Game Halep, breaks Ostapenko. 1-1 now.

Halep on serve at 30-0. 40-0. Picking up points now!  Ostapenko hits long, back on serve, Halep leading 2-1.

Ostapenko serves, down 0-15. Halep has the momentum and ostapenko fights back, 15-15 now.  30-15 now.  40-15 now.  Ostapenko dominates! Serves to the T and Halep nets a backhand,  Smart tennis. 2-2 now.

Halep serves.  A rally and Ostapenko hits deep wide. 15-0.  Halep serves wide and Ostapenko returns down the line. 15-15. 15-30 now.  Broken Halep concentration. Halep on her knees, 15-40, and now Game Ostapenko, breaks Halep! 3-2.

30 minutes into the match.

Ostapenko has an advantage now, she is serving and up a game at 3-2.  This is what you want in tennis. Any open window.  Halep attacks her backhand and now 0-15.  Halep gives a lot of spin, Ostapenko hits a wide backhand out. 0-30, double fault!  Even the great among us suffer from nerves! Halep is attacking with big shots, Ostapenko returns even bigger shots but then nets the ball. Game Halep, breaks Ostapenko. 3-3 now. 

Halep serves. 15-15 now. Love Haleps smarts. 30-15.  40-15, aangled bad bh of ostapenko. Not so fast! Great Ostapenko backhand winner down the line.  40-30.  Playing the second serve ball. Deuce!  Fault. Another bh down the line! Ad ostapenko!  Fault. Pressure. Ostapenko hits wide. Deuce again. Ostapenko hits wide again. Ad Halep.  That Ostapenko down the line shot again, use what works! Deuce. Ostapenko nets a backhand drive. AD Halep.  Halep serves wide, Ostapenko nets the ball, game Halep! 4-3 now.

Ostapenko serving.  30-0 now.  Fault.  Double fault. 15-30. Winner, 40-15 now. Fault.  Ostapenko hits wide after a four ball rally. 40-30 now.  Nets the serve.  Halep recovers from a tough deep ball and o misses it. Deuce!  Fault. Second serve.  Wow, too good, another winner to bh to Halep. AD ostapenko.  These women are fighting! Bludgeoning shots. Incredible. O wins!

4-4 now. Ostapenko is in the game, relentless.

Halep attacks a ball but a bit wide.  Going for the lines, winner, 0-30 now.  Short points here.  Okay, 15-30 now.  A window.  Ostapenko hits out. 30-30 now.  Halpe has lost weight in these past two weeks, she looks great!  Okay, so strong, 40-30 now.  Halep serves to T. Fault.  Second. To the T. Deuce.  Fault.  Serves wide, then Ostapenko hits long, windy day now. Advantage Halep.  Serves to backhand, returns down the line,  rally, Ostapenko hits long again! What a fight for this service game! Halep is the victor, here, at 5-4 now.  Can she break Ostapenko for the first set?  This is what she wants, let us see how Halep manages the close of this first set.

In to the match 45 minutes now.  Know your timing.  This helps to manage the rest of the future match.

Ostapenko serving.  Fault.  More careful points here, Ostapenko hits long. 0-15.  Fault.  Wow! Tactic: Great rally and Ostapenko hits an inside out forehand to the backhand service box for a winner.  15-15 now.  Serve to T, then Ostapenko takes a risk drop shot but Halep picks up on it and angles for a winner off Ostapenko's racquet that ricochets wide.  15-30. A tight rally but Halep hits wide, 30-30 now.  Big points here now.  Fault, nets the ball.  Second, curves to box, a lot of spin and too much, Ostapenko nets the ball on a return, 30-40. Another short rally now, Ostapenko hits long! Has to be the nerves. Halep breaks O!

Simona Halep wins the first set in 50 minutes at 6-4.


Halep opens the second set serving.  As a player this is what you want.  At the pro level most players win on their serve, so if you win on all serves and break your opponent once, you can win a set at 6-3.  That is how the scoring works.  If you do not open serve, and break your opponent once, you win at 6-4.  That is just how  the scoring goes.

Wow, Halep serving now, and down at 0-30 now.  Fault. Pressure.  0-40 now.  Ostapenko is not going down withput a fight!  0-40. Fault. Pressure.  Great dwt line return, 15-40 now. Fault. Mary Carillo says get more of first serves in. 30-40 now.  These are pros. Great serve to o forehand who hits long. Deuce!  Serves to T, a rally and O hits wide, Advantage Halep!  Nice serves to the T to os forehand who nets the ball! Game Halep!  Look how she came back from 0-40 to win this game. Short, tough and tight points. S,art tennis. 1-0.

O serves now.  0-15. H has momentum. O on the hot seat. H hits ot Os forehand who hits out. 0-30 now.  Wow, too good, o hits an angles winner form service box. 15-30, fault, has h on the run, dominating, great strength, 30-30 now.  O takes a great ball form the air, a trademark of hers. Fault.  Wow, winner form Halep off seconds erve to crosscourt box deep in alley corner. 3-040. Halep is a machine out there and O is a smart player finding that opening on the court under pressure. Ace! Ad O now.  Rally and O hits long off her bh. 40-40, egalite.  Fault. H hits bh return to O fh who nets, Ad Halep now.  You get the sense Halep will win this match.  Maybe not so fast! Back to deuce.  She smashes a ball to service box backhand.  40-40 now.  A battle and Ad Halep now.   Both are expressive players. Wow, another short rally and Halep hits a rather routine shot to O standing at serviceline, ball right on O racquet and O hits wide. Game Halep! 2-0.

H serves now.  At 30-0 now, momentum Halep.  Another short rally, O hits wide again. 40-0. 40-15 nw. Fault. O has Halep on the run, 40-30 now. O is moving those feet!! Deuce now!  Ad Halep, short short points.  Halep on the run and recovers after each shot beautifully. She returns a low slice and O hits even lower into the net.  Great tennis here. Game Halep, 3-0.

This is just the lead a player wants, but not to be fooled, a great opponent can get back in the gam eat ant time in the set.

One hour and 10 minutes now.

O is serving. Fault, H attacks second serve and O returns long. 0-15.  H hits long after a short rally. 15-15 now.  Fault in the net.  Fault serving long. 15-30. No freebies please!  Tough out there.  Nice serve, easy to H and a short rally and O dominates, 30-30 now.  Fault.  H attacks with heavy deep returns returns but O hits a great shot spiing off H fh which goes out.  Another short point, 40 -40 now.  H hits a tight ball to O body who bhs thhe ball ni to the net. AD Halep, then O gets back to deuce. Whew! Pressure here. A T serve to the middle and H handles with ease. O hits into the net. Ad H. O has Halep on the run after serving to h bh, O is on the run too. Back to deuce!  Fault, double fault.  Ad H. back to deuce!  O is not gong to let this game loose.  Ad O!  Great palying! O angles H like crazy and gets the point! Gets the game!

H is serving at 3-1.  0-15 now.  Ball spins off O raquet and goes wide, 15-15 now. Too many mises form O, commentatire Ted says.  O runs to the net and puts away a winner. 1-30, now 15-40 now.  O hits wide.  30-40 now.  O gets a great ball, breaks Halep!  Not so fast, this could be a long match after all, never taste victory until the match is over, a worthy opponent will capitalize on this fallicy and come back and take the trophy form you!

1 hour and 20 minutes now.

Ostapenko is serving at 2-3 now. Ostapenko strategy! Run Halep with deep angels side to side of court! Then Halep nets the ball. 15-0. Fault. Halep attacks second serve, Ostapenko hits long, 15-15 now.  Fault. Halep attacking second serve with heavy deep balls to Ostapenko's forehand, then after 3rd ball Ostapenko hits a forehand service box shot wide. 15-30 now.  Fault. Nerves. Second serve to Halep's backhand, a routine short rally, Ostapenko hits ball wide in backhand service box. 15-40 now.  Let serve. Too good, point to O, 30-40 now.  H hits long! 40-40 now!  Serve to T, fault.  Serve to wide a kick serve, H returns long! Ad O. Now game O! 3-3 now.

Halep is serving and 15-0 now. Errors on the part of Ostapenko.  Ostapenko gets this at 15-15 now but seems tired.  Tactic: Ostapenko is getting Halep on the angles, keeping her off position.  15-30.  15-40!  Fault.  Ostapenko hits long! 30-40. H serve to the T and Ostapenko returns wide, 40-40!  Fault to the T.  Wide serve and Ostapenko returns to wide alley! In! Ad Ostapenko.  Wide serve to the T. Second, Ostapenko is loaded for bear, Tactic: Halep is on her back foot and Ostapenko takes a chance and comes to the net and on second pop up of Halep puts the point away form the net. Great tennis! Ostapenko breaks Halep. 4-3 now.

Ostapenko is serving at 4-3 now.  Halep will be loaded herself to close out this match, to defend her turf. 15-30 now, lots of running.  Nerves, 15-40 now.  Too many errors.  Wide serve fault.  Serve to the T, middle shots in the court and Ostapenko hits long from a backhand at the baseline.Game Halep, breaks Ostapenko! 4-4 now!

Halep serving,  In two seconds, 0-15.  In another 2 seconds, 0-30.  Tactic: Serve to the T, Ostapenko angles it and Halep lunges but nets the ball.  Now Halep nets again!  Game Ostapenko, breaks Halep! 5-4 now.

One hour, 35 minutes.

Ostapenko is serving at 5-4, a great place to be on the scoreboard. Amazing angle shots of Ostapenko.  30-0. Ostapenko knows how to play against Halep now. Aggressive, no mercy, go for your shots! Believe! 40-0. Fault. Pressure to close. Tactic: Ostapenko serves wide in the AD court and Halep angles a return of her own, jams Ostapenko and Ostapenko nets the ball. 40-15 now. Do it again! Angle begets angle! Ostapenko dictates this ball then hits a winner down the line! Set goes to Ostapenko! 6-4.

Tip: When you are on the defensive you have to know when to come in to the net to put a shot away to get those needed points. Easy to say, difficult to do.


Halep opens the set serving.  Fault.  Halep hits long, 0-15. Ostapenko is loaded, Halep is neutral.. 15-15 now. Remain calm.  Ostapenko hits another down the line winner, 15-30.  Tactic: Another down the line line shot from the AD side of court! 15-40 now. Ostapenko tries again the doen th eline shot but nets the ball. 30-40 now.  A huge winner from Halep~ a passing shot that catches the baseline. 40-40.  Ostapenko is clearly going for the lines, but hits wide, Advantage Halep.  Ostapenko returns the next shot long. Hard to do: Halep gets the first game crawling back from 15-40 to win game number 1.

Ostapenko is serving at 0-1.  Coach Darren Cahill sits neutral in the stands.  Halep is such a warrior.  And Ostapenko gets the crazy shots, 15-0.  Fault.  Halep goes directly to attack the ball, a big swing and nets the ball. 30-0. Fault in the net.  Tactic: Second serve to the T, and Halep jams Ostapenko who nets the ball with a too tight backhand. 30-15 now. Ostapenko hits another winner down the line. Great defensive shot of hers which she converts to a winner. 40-15.  Ace! To the T. Game Ostapenko, 1-1 now.

Halep is serving. 0-15.  Tactic: Halep is now going for the lines! Gives it right back to Ostapenko.  Winner to the side wide, perfect. 15-15.  Rally, a crazy fault by Ostapenko.  30-15. Deep balls, then Ostapenko goes for a swinging volley from the shoulder for a putaway and instead nets the ball.  40-15.  Halep has fast feet, recovers from each shot, Ostapenko nets the ball, game Halep, 2-1.

One hour 45 minutes in to the match.

Ostapenko is serving.  Fault.  Halep returns wide angle, Ostapenko nets. 0-15.  Short rally, Ostapenko nets again.  0-30.  Fault. Slower balls, easy backhand from Halep, then Ostapenko hits long. 0-40. What is going on here? Next a wide nice serve, Halep nets a backhand. 15-40. 2 break points here. Halep returns a deep baseline shot to Ostapenko's backhand, and Ostapenko returns long! Game Halep, breaks Ostapenko! 3-1.

Halep is serving, Not a good start~ Halep is on her knees, while Ostapenko takes the shot to win the point.  0-15. Quick point, smart,15-15 now.  Halep has a wide serve then begets a wide angle and Ostapenko easily puts away a winner down the line, 15-30.  Another quick point, smart Halep,  now 30-30. Close match.  Halep curves a serve in, short rally, Ostapenko hits another winner down the line.  30-40, Tactic: Halep now crowds a second serve right at Ostapenko jamming her and the ball rightly so goes into the net. 40-40.  Halep misses a ball. Advantage Ostapenko. Stay positive. Ostapenko  hits another winner down the line. Game Ostapenko, breaks Halep! 3-2 now.

Ostapenko is serving.  Rally, Halep hits long, 15-0.  Halep needs to break Ostapenko in this game for a good set position. Halep hits a winner to the line service box, smart tennis. 15-15. Fault.  Middle shots, then Ostapenko goes for the line and misses wide. 15-30 now.  Wide T serve, out. Second serve and Ostapenko hits a great volley to pull Halep off court! 30-30. Great footwork on the part of both players, Great swing volley of Ostapenko. 40-30. 2 hours. Ostapenko hits wide, 40-40 now.  Ace to the T! AD Ostapenko. Playing the ball now. Tactic: Ostapenko hits another swinging volley from the shoulders to corner the shot in deep service box for a winner! Nice tennis! Game Ostapenko.  3-3 now.

Halep is serving, now 0-15. 0-30 now. Pressure is on. Tennis is a tough sport.  Ostapenko hits long, 15-30 now.  Halep must fight for each point.  Fault. Tactic: Ostapenko is clobbering the serves, while keeping the ball inside the lines, 15-40 now.  Ostapenko takes a risk to close the game and hits a short ball- Halep runs right up to put it away. 30-40 now.  Serve wide, and Ostapenko breaks Halep in an incredibly lucky shot that would have gone out, but instead the ball rips the net tape, pops up, and lands spinning inside the court for an impossible shot for Halep to return.  As I say, “Luck is part of the game!” Game Ostapenko, breaks Halep! 4-3 now.

Ostapenko is serving now.  Halep must stay positive, says Commentator Mary Carillo.  Rally, Halep nets the ball from her forehand. 15-0.  Ostapenko hits wide, 15-15.  Tactic: Ostapenko has Halep on the run, Mary says Ostapenko is playing to win.  Now Ostapenko hits a winner to opposite side of court and down the line.  With the score at 30-15, now Halep hits long, she is tight and the ball goes long. 40-15 now,  and ever so quickly Ostapenko wins the game, 5-3!

Halep is serving.  Ostapenko hits long.  15-0.  Halep nets the ball. 15-15.  Ostapenko hits a great shot, 15-30. Fault, nerves. Ostapenko returns wide, more nerves on the other side of the court, 30-30. Out of nowhere Ostapenko blasts a winner, match point! 30-40. Next, from the AD court Ostapenko returns a first serve down the line off a backhand long drive for a winner!  6-3 and Match Point, Ostapenko!

2 hour 10 minute match!

Congratulations Jelena Ostapenko! She is thrilled! Drops the racquet and cheers! The hand shake and the hug with Halep! Going back to her bench,  Halep is all business, she played so well!  

 Our new French Open 2017 women's champion is only 20 years old and 2 days of age. Runner up Simona Halep is 25, lots of playing to continue for the both of them, here they are~

Photo courtesy Getty Images
How Ostapenko won: Her swinging volley shots to the angled service box, her down the line shots, all sprinkled with a few strategic aces and solid determination.

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