French Open

Presidential treatment for French Open finalist

2017-06-09 14:58
Jelena Ostapenko (AP)

Paris - Latvian breakout star Jelena Ostapenko revealed she received a call from the country's president Raimonds Vejonis after her historic run to the French Open final.

Ostapenko celebrated her 20th birthday on Thursday by becoming the first Latvian to reach a Grand Slam final after blasting past Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky in three sets.

The world number 47 is chasing a first tour-level title at Roland Garros and would be the tournament's lowest-ranked champion in history.

"Yesterday a lot of calls from Latvia, even the president of the country called. So was really nice the attention from my country," Ostapenko said on Friday.

"He actually called my mom. So that's what she told me. I mean, because nobody knows my phone. 

"But yeah, it was really nice, because the president called. That means a lot already."

Ostapenko, the 2014 junior Wimbledon champion, admitted she expects quite a reception when she returns home after her stunning display in Paris.

"Tennis is not popular in our country because it's a kind of expensive sport," said Ostapenko, who would be the first unseeded player to win the French Open in the Open era.

"I think probably I will have a lot of attention when I come back home."

Ostapenko faces third seed Simona Halep, who lost to Maria Sharapova in the 2014 final, on Saturday with a first-time major champion set to be crowned.

"I need to stay aggressive and to play my game. But it's going to be a tough match and I have to be ready for it," said Ostapenko. 

"Yesterday in the second set I was a little bit nervous. Maybe you couldn't see that, but I was a little bit nervous inside. 

"But today I'm feeling fine because tomorrow is the final. So I'm just going to prepare and enjoy the final tomorrow."

Halep, 25, is attempting to join Ilie Nastase and Virginia Ruzici as just the third Romanian Grand Slam singles champion.

"Since Virginia, no one won a Grand Slam. So it's going to be a big thing if I will do it tomorrow," said Halep, aiming to emulate Ruzici's 1978 triumph at Roland Garros. 

"Of course, this match is really important, and I will not hide the heaviness that it has. 

"I would like not to think too much, because it puts more pressure. I say always that I play well with the pressure, but now I don't need it. I just take it like a big day, a big match. 

"I will give my best to make happy more people at home."

Halep admits she learned some important lessons from her three-set loss to Sharapova and is keen to shut out any unnecessary distractions.

"Three years ago it was, like, 50 people around me, my family, friends, everyone," said Halep, who will replace Angelique Kerber as world number one with victory over Ostapenko. 

"So now I will stay with my team, same routine, same things, and I just want to get ready for tomorrow. 

"I'm not thinking that is the final. I'm thinking just that it's a normal match. But of course, I take the pressure because I like it."

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