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Sharapova wins second French Open title

Maria Sharapova is now only seven Roland Garros titles away from equaling Rafael Nadal
Maria Sharapova is now only seven Roland Garros titles away from equaling Rafael Nadal
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The final on Sunday never lived up to the hype but Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep put on a fantastic show on Saturday.

Sharapova had the early advantage, holding a 4-2 lead and then 5-3, so was just two points away from victory. However, Halep yet again showed her remarkable spirit and reeled off the next four points to take the second set 7-5 in the tie-break.

Maria Sharapova has won her second French Open title after a classic final with Simona Halep.

The number seven seed won through 6-4 6-7 6-4 in a three-hour match that was in the balance right up until the end. The win means that Sharapova is now a five-time Grand Slam winner, moving her level with Martina Hingis in the number of major tournaments won. 

Halep was competing in her first Grand Slam final. After Sharapova had been forced to come from a set down in the fourth round, quarter-final and semi-final, the Romanian was aiming to put Sharapova under pressure from the very beginning. 

She did get off to the perfect start, breaking the Sharapova serve in the very first game, using cross-court angles to move the Russian around the court. However, she could not hold on to the break for long, with Sharapova breaking back in the fourth game of the set to level at 2-2. 

She broke again in the next Halep service game to take a 4-2 lead and took the set 6-4, showing great character to take control after Halep had dominated the early stages. 

It was the first set that Halep had dropped in the whole tournament and she struggled at the beginning of the second, with a Sharapova break giving her a 2-0 lead. However, the Romanian once again showed her spirit, breaking straight back to restore parity.

She broke Sharapova again to make it 5-4 and came out to serve for the set. However, both players were struggling to hold on to their service games and Halep was broken back, although it was a cruel net cord that eventually took the game away from her. She then broke Sharapova in the next game to serve for the set once again, but again Sharapova refused to be beaten and the second set went to a tie-break.

Sharapova had the early advantage, holding a 4-2 lead and then 5-3, so was just two points away from victory. However, Halep yet again showed her remarkable spirit and reeled off the next four points to take the second set 7-5 in the tie-break.

The match therefore went into a third and deciding set for the first time in the French Open women's final since 2001. It followed the see-saw nature of the previous two sets, one player taking control only to be pegged back. There were yet more breaks of serve as Sharapova took charge and broke for a 4-2 lead but Halep again broke back and made it 4-4. 

Sharapova then broke Halep yet again and, at 5-4, served for the championship. This time she held on comfortably, choosing the right time to play a clinical service game. She went to 40-0, giving herself three championship points and, on the first, sent down a strong serve that Halep could only return wide.

Sharapova was a worthy champion who showed great determination throughout the tournament to win her first Grand Slam since the 2012 Paris event. However, Simona Halep played a full part in a classic final and her first Grand Slam victory will surely not be too far away. 

Five years younger than Sharapova and a decade younger than Serena Williams, she is one for the future and, together with Eugenie Bouchard, could dominate women's tennis for years to come. 

Alex Johnson,

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