Maria Sharapova outlasts Simona Halep, bags French Open crown

Fitzgerald Cecilio – 4E Sports Reporter

Paris, France (4E Sports) – Seventh seed Maria Sharapova defeated Simona Halep, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4, to bag her second French Open title and her fifth Grand Slam trophy Saturday.

“This was the toughest Grand Slam final I’ve ever played,” said Sharapova, who needed three hours and two minutes to seal the win. “All the respect to Simona. I thought she just played an unbelievable match today.”

Sharapova built an early lead — 6-4, 2-0 — but Halep working her way right back into it, sneaking out the second set and holding two break points for a 3-1 lead in the third set, even getting to 4-all.

However, Sharapova brought out her best tennis of the tournament when it mattered most, dropping a pair of love games on the No. 4-seeded Halep to capture the title.

“I can’t believe it. I never thought seven or eight years ago that I’d win more Roland Garroses when I was 27 years old than any other Grand Slam. It’s a dream come true. This tournament means so much to me,” Sharapova said.

Sharapova now has five Grand Slam titles – Wimbledon in 2004, the US Open in 2006, the Australian Open in 2008, the French Open in 2012 and 2014.

She is the 12th woman in the Open Era to win five or more Grand Slam titles, after Steffi Graf (22), Chris Evert (18), Martina Navratilova (18), Serena Williams (17), Margaret Court (11), Monica Seles (9), Billie Jean King (8), Evonne Goolagong Cawley (7), Venus Williams (7), Justine Henin (7) and Martina Hingis (5).

With her victory, Sharapova will go from No. 8 to No. 5 on the WTA rankings, No. 4 to No. 1 on the Road To Singapore leaderboard, and No. 3 to No. 2 on the all-time prize money list (trailing only Serena Williams).

The veteran Sharapova, who took home $2.245 million, improved to 4-0 lifetime against Halep, including a win on clay in the final in Madrid just last month.

Halep, who was trying to become the second Romanian woman to win a grand slam title after her manager Virginia Ruzici won at Roland Garros in 1978, will now be No. 3 on the WTA Rankings and Road To Singapore leaderboard.

On the men’s side, 11th seeds Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin became the first French doubles champions at Roland Garros since 1984 as they defeated Spaniards Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers, 6-3, 7-6(1).

The last French pair to triumph at Roland Garros had been Henri Leconte and Yannick Noah. Benneteau and Roger-Vasselin are just the fourth French duo in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam championship.

Both Benneteau and Roger-Vasselin lifted their first major trophies in just their third Grand Slam appearance together.

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