A finals day full of firsts
Originally published on 10/06/17 00:00
Jelena Ostapenko reigned supreme in Paris, overcoming Simona Halep 4-6 6-4 6-3 and winning her first tour-level title. On her 54th winner, the 20-year-old secured the Grand Slam title.
Last year, in her debut at the French Open, the Latvian lost in the first round. This year, she is making history.
In an odd turn of fate, she is the first player to win her maiden tour title in Paris since Gustavo Kuerten did it 20 years ago – June 8, 1997 – the day Ostapenko was born.
How much will the winning woman walk away with?
This year’s prize pool across the whole tournament has increased from €32m in 2016 to €36m.
The winner of the tournament, Ostapenko, will take €2.1m and Halep can claim €1m. Ostapenko's career winnings come to a sum of $1,288,260 – her win at Roland Garros is double what she has earned thus far.
Compared to the other Grand Slam tournaments, the French Open prize money is the least-well paid of the four majors.
When it comes to singles championships, the US Open is the most lucrative, paying £2.65m to the winner and £1.29m to the runner-up.
Alfie Hewett has made the record books. He won the French Open wheelchair singles on Saturday, becoming the first British player to take the trophy. Hewett saved two match point against Gustavo Fernandez to claim his first Grand Slam title. The 19-year-old came from behind to win 0-6 7-6(9) 6-2.
The Brit came into the tournament as the No.7 seed. "I had a good feeling about this week,” he said. “This time last year I was outside the top 10, hadn't really won anything.
"A year on I've got two (Paralympic) silver medals, Wimbledon doubles champion and now singles Grand Slam at Roland Garros – I can't believe it."
In the second set tie-break, Argentine Fernandez had two match points but Hewett was calm and confident. "I played him a week and a half ago in another final and I was 6-0 3-0 down, and when it went 6-0 2-0 this time I was thinking, 'Oh no, here we go again'," said Hewett.
“But I remembered coming back that time so I knew I could come back, and when it got to that tie-break, it was very up and down, he had match points, I had set points.
"Mentally that was a big positive for me to keep in there and hold out. I felt good after I won that second set and knew I needed to get off to a good start in the third and when that happened I grew in confidence."
Aussies rule in the juniors
In the women’s game, Australia’s greatest hope of taking the title in Paris was knocked out of the Grand Slam in the fourth round – Samantha Stosur, the No.23 seed, was beaten in three sets by eventual champion Ostapenko.
In the men’s game, No.18 Nick Kyrgios failed to make it past the second round.
But there is a one Next Gen player coming through the ranks that is getting Australian fans excited.
On Saturday, Alexei Popyrin became the first Australian in 49 years to win the French Open boys’ title – Phil Dent was the last Aussie to win in 1968. Popyrin defeated Spaniard Nicola Kuhn in straight sets, 7-6(5) 6-3.
The 17-year-old was seeded No.3 in the tournament and had claimed titles in Morocco and Italy ahead of Roland Garros.
Before the final he had a chance to get some practice against the clay-court pros – he was spotted warming up with Dominic Thiem ahead of the Austrian’s semi-final match against Rafael Nadal.