You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

French Open final preview: Is it finally Halep's time?

theScore logo theScore 10-06-2017 Michael Amato

Simona Halep celebrates after winning against Karolina Pliskova during their semifinal match at the French Open on June 8, 2017. © ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images Simona Halep celebrates after winning against Karolina Pliskova during their semifinal match at the French Open on June 8, 2017.

No one would blame you if you didn't know who Jelena Ostapenko was prior to the 2017 French Open. The unseeded 20-year-old came into the tournament with a world ranking of 47, only to march her way to the final after a number of very gutsy three-set wins along the way. The opposition will be turned up to another level on Saturday, though, as a very determined Simona Halep awaits.

Halep, on the other hand, is expected to be in these positions as a top-5 player in the world. That said, the Romanian has reached only one another major final and that coveted first Grand Slam still eludes her. Halep's been on a mission so far in Paris, perhaps realizing this is an opportunity she can't afford to waste.

The not-so underdog

© Provided by theScore

On paper, Halep is going to be the favorite, but a David vs. Goliath matchup this is not.

Ostapenko has beaten some talented players en route to the finals thus far, perhaps none more so than former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Many were shocked when the Latvian ousted Wozniacki, though it shouldn't have come as a surprise. Ostapenko is now 4-0 against Wozniacki in her brief career, including two victories earlier this year.

This is only the eighth major Ostapenko has played, which actually may work to her advantage. She has stayed aggressive throughout the tournament and played like she has nothing to lose, which is a scary thing to deal with for an opponent - just ask Timea Bacsinszky, who Ostapenko took out in the semifinals.

"She is young and reckless, in a sense," Bacsinszky said, according to Howard Fendrich of The Associated Press. "She's not afraid of anything. She's a big hitter. She's a baby, but she's a beautiful baby."

That lack of fear could be reason for Halep to worry. 

Best chance for a major

© Provided by theScore

It's now or never for Halep.

Well, maybe that's a bit extreme considering she's still only 25, but Halep certainly needs to approach this match with a sense of desperation. She's had to overcome Elina Svitolina and No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova to get here, but things could have been much tougher.

Serena Williams wasn't involved in this year's festivities and she's been a major obstacle for Halep throughout her career. The American owns an 8-1 record versus Halep and the chance to avoid crossing paths with Serena in a major doesn't come around very often. The No. 1 player in the world, Angelique Kerber, also went out early, paving the way for Halep to become the favorite to win the tournament in the eyes of many.

As evidenced above, overcoming Ostapenko won't be an easy task, but it's certainly one Halep would choose over dealing with Serena or Kerber.

There will be other opportunities for Halep to win a Grand Slam, but none may be better than this. 

Carving out a legacy

© Provided by theScore

Both players will still have plenty of tennis left in them after Saturday's final, though it's never too early to start etching your place in the history of the sport.

For Ostapenko, winning a major that young could catapult her career into superstardom and give her a belief that she belongs with the greatest players in the game. The Latvian just turned 20, and while a victory here may not be as impressive as Maria Sharapova's triumph over Serena at Wimbledon at the age of 17, it would cement her place as a major contender for the foreseeable future.

From Halep's perspective, nobody wants to be remembered as one of the best players never to win a Grand Slam, so she has a chance to end all that chatter once and for all. Even if Halep never again reaches such heights, there are hundreds of players that would have loved to leave the game with just one major.

There's a lot on the line.

THE PICK: Halep in straight sets.

Related slideshow: Women's Grand Slam Winners

Serena Williams poses with the Daphne Akhurst Trophy after winning the 2017 Australian Open Women's Singles Final against Venus Williams on Jan. 28 in Melbourne, Australia. Women's Grand Slam Winners

More from theScore

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon