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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, June 9, 2017

Two players compete for historic firsts in the Roland Garros final.

Unseeded upstart Jelena Ostapenko continues a stirring run through the field aiming for her first career title.

Watch: Ostapenko Powers Into Roland Garros Final

Simona Halep is playing for her first Grand Slam title and the world No. 1 ranking.

If the 2014 finalist takes the title tomorrow she will surpass Angelique Kerber as the 23rd woman and first Romanian to seize the top spot.

“I will play for two things: My first Grand Slam and No. 1 in the world,” Halep said. “It's a big challenge, a big chance. I think I have the game. I have the mentality to win, but it's gonna be tough. I expect her to give everything she has, to hit all the balls, to play with confidence—but I'm confident as well."

We know Ostapenko knows how to compete and celebrate.

The fearless 47th-ranked Ostapenko celebrated her 20th birthday toppling Timea Bacsinszky, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-3, in the semifinals barging into the Roland Garros final in just her eighth Grand Slam appearance.

Ostapenko slugged 50 winners and broke serve eight times becoming the first Latvian to reach a Grand Slam final.

Empowered by exceptional timing, a punishing forehand and the fearlessness of youth, Ostapenko is the youngest French Open finalist since a 19-year-old Ana Ivanovic a decade earlier.

Will youth help her hit through the pressure or will Halep's experience contesting her second Roland Garros final in the last three years benefit the Romanian?

In a glorious struggle of crackling shotmaking and scrappy defense Maria Sharapova edged Halep, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4, in a three hour, two-minute stress test in the 2014 final.

Halep was the rising young player in that final, now she faces off against 2014 Wimbledon junior champion Ostapenko in a career-defining match.

Here’s a look at some intriguing numbers for the French Open final.

0 Total career Roland Garros victories for Ostapenko before the tournament began; she lost to Naomi Osaka in her 2016 Paris debut.

1 Only one Romanian woman has won Roland Garros. Virginia Ruzici, who is now Halep’s manager, captured the 1978 crown.

2 Only twice has a non Top-10 seed won the Roland Garros title: Margaret Scriven (1933) and Francesca Schiavone, who was seeded No. 17 when she upset Samantha Stosur to win the 2010 championship.

4 Halep has defeated four seeded opponents—No. 26-seeded Daria Kasatkina, 21st-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro, No. 5-seeded Elina Svitolina and No. 2-seeded Karolina Pliskova—en route to her second career Grand Slam final.

5 Five woman have won the Roland Garros singles title after reigning as Roland Garros girls' champion: Francois Durr, Mima Jausovec, Hana Mandlikova, Jennifer Capriati and Justine Henin. Halep, the 2008 girls' champion, is aiming to become the sixth.

8 Since Hall of Famer Justine Henin won her third straight Roland Garros crown in 2007, eight different women have raised the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen with only Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova winning the title twice in that span.

17 Contesting just her eighth Grand Slam event, Ostapenko has played a total of 17 major matches.

18 Her inspired run to the final will propel Ostapenko to No. 18 when the new WTA rankings are released on Monday; should she win the title she will rise to No. 12.

18 Madrid champion Halep has posted an 18-2 clay-court record this season with her lone losses coming to Elina Svitolina in the Rome final after she sprained her ankle and to Laura Siegemund in the Stuttgart semifinals.

39 Both women are snipers on return: Ostapenko’s 39 break points won leads the tournament, while Halep has broken 33 times, which is third highest.

39 It was 39 years ago that Christine O’Neil won the 1978 Australian Open title—she remains the last woman to win her debut tour-level title at a Grand Slam.

47-5 Halep’s record when winning the first set of a Grand Slam match.

77 Halep’s first-serve percentage for the tournament. She entered the tournament serving 67 percent on the season.


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