Maria Sharapova has won the French Open for the second time, after beating world number four Simona Halep of Romania in three sets in the final on Saturday afternoon.
The Russian regained her title that she first won in 2012, and her victory was achieved in a grueling three hours and two minutes against a dogged Halep to win 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4.
Halep, whose ranking has risen 53 places in the last year, became the first Romanian to reach a Grand Slam final when she defeated Andrea Petkovic in the semi-finals on Friday.
She managed to break Sharapova’s serve in the opening game of the match but was soon pegged back, and the more experienced star broke in the tenth game to take the opening set.
The match became harder to predict as it went on, as Halep came back from a break down and served for the set twice, but both players were susceptible on their own serve, and 22-year-old Halep edged it when Sharapova had been just two points away from sealing the match.
There were a further five breaks of serve in the deciding set, and Sharapova eventually held her serve at 5-4 in the tenth game to seal her fifth Grand Slam title, with the French Open the first she has won on two occasions.
Sharapova’s excitement caused her to tweet immediately after her victory while she was still on the court, as she wrote to her total of 1.01 million followers: “This is the moment I dream of every single day!!!”
The world number seven was then almost lost for words as she spoke to the Parisian crowd, as her triumph was yet to sink in.
"This is the toughest Grand Slam final I've ever played," she said. “Really, this tournament means so much to me. It's a tournament, when I was young and growing up, I wanted to win.
"To think that I've won it two times is, I don't know. So emotional right now, I can't even talk."
The win put the icing on the cake for what has been a strong clay court season for Sharapova, after winning titles in Stuttgart and Madrid, and she has only been beaten once on the red surface in 2014.
She completed the career Grand Slam when she beat Italian Sara Errani in the 2012 final, and lost her title in the 2013 final to Serena Williams.
Halep was not able to win her first Grand Slam title, but the 2008 junior champion will rise to number three in the world rankings following her run to the final, and she had been the highest seed left in the draw after the top three seeds were knocked out in the first three rounds.
It was the longest women’s final since 1996, when Steffi Graf beat Arantxa Sanchez 10-8 in the final set, and the first to go to three sets since 2001, when Jennifer Capriati beat Kim Clijsters.
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