Tennis / Sports

Sharapova outlasts Halep to win 2nd French Open trophy

PARIS -- Maria Sharapova struggled for more than three hours on Saturday but captured her fifth Grand Slam title with a 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4 victory over Romanian Simona Halep.

Sharapova won her second crown at Roland Garros in three years in what was the first three-set women's final at the French Open in 13 years.

The Russian claimed the Paris title in 2012 to complete her career Grand Slam and lost in the final last year to Serena Williams.

Sharapova collected her 20th consecutive three-set match win but struggled throughout a contest which featured 33 break points and a dozen double faults off her racquet.

"This was the toughest Grand Slam final I've ever played," said Sharapova. "It's such an emotional victory for me in my career.

"I've been in many Grand Slam finals, and every one feels very different. I feel like as I get older I appreciate those situations so much more.

"When it's over, everything just lets go. You just realize you won another Grand Slam, and Roland Garros at that."

The winner said she is amazed to own two trophies on clay, far from her favorite surface and one which she all but detested early in her career.

"If somebody had told me that at some stage in my career that I'd have more Roland Garros titles than any other Grand Slam, I'd probably go get drunk -- or tell them to get drunk," she joked.

"It's really amazing. I feel that I worked to get to this position. There is no substitute in these titles. You can't just go out there and just do it without putting in the effort, putting in the work."

Halep, who had not dropped a set until facing Sharapova, said: "It's my first Grand Slam speech and I'm very emotional, so it's difficult.

"I played very good tennis, very good level. So I'm really proud about these two weeks. They were incredible weeks here and an incredible tournament. I'm really happy, and it was an amazing feeling on court today."

She continued: "It was really tough before the match to manage the emotions. It was a big match for me, my first final of a Grand Slam.

"I tried just to stay relaxed, to say that it's a normal final, like a small tournament. It was a good start for me. I played really well today. I'm really happy about this."

After match point, Sharapova climbed into the stands to hug her three-person team headed by Dutch coach Sven Groeneveld, who joined her last summer just as a shoulder injury prevented her from playing any matches from mid-August until 2014.

Sharapova stood two points from victory in the second-set tiebreak with a lead of a set and 5-3 in the decider. But Halep pulled to 5-all before Sharapova sent a forehand out for a set point to the Romanian, who will rise to third place in the world rankings on Monday.

Halep won the set as Sharapova put a backhand wide down the line to move into a deciding third.

The Russian broke to start and lost the edge in the second game, 1-1. A 3-2 lead to Sharapova only lasted until Halep leveled at 4-4 on a 12th double-fault from the seventh seed.

Sharapova won the last eight points of the match, breaking Halep to love in the penultimate game and serving it out to claim victory.

She becomes the first Russian, male or female, to win the same Grand Slam title twice.

The victory was Sharapova's 50th at the event as she beat Halep for the fourth time after defeating her last month for the Madrid title.

Sharapova reached the final by winning three consecutive matches in three sets. She ended with 42 winners and breaks of serve from 20 chances.

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