If Rafael Nadal is the king of clay, Maria Sharapova might be inching closer to wearing the crown on the women's side.
Sharapova outlasted Simona Halep 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4 on Saturday at Roland Garros, winning her second French Open title in the last three years and the fifth Grand Slam of her career. The win ties Sharapova for eleventh all-time in Grand Slam wins with Martina Hingis, and it is the first time Sharapova has been able to win one of the four Grand Slams for a second time.
The match looked like it might be a quick one after Sharapova broke Halep to win the opening set. In her previous three matches, Sharapova struggled in the opening set, dropping all three only to come back and win those matches, so an opening set for Sharapova was extremely important and put Halep behind the eight ball early.
But Halep, who hadn't dropped a single set all tournament before Saturday, hung tough in the second set and let some loose Sharapova service games get her back in this match. The second set went to a tiebreaker, and with Sharapova up 4-2, it was Halep who remained calm, winning the tiebreaker after slowing her pace down to match that of Maria's.
The third set was just break after break for both players, with Sharapova getting the most important one to go up 5-4 and serve for the match. It had been a shaky service day for Sharapova, who collected 12 double faults before that final game, but she was as solid as ever serving out the championship, and when Halep's desperation lob went wide, it was Sharapova who fell to the ground as she picked up her second French Open title.
Sharapova has now won her last 20 three-set matches on clay, and has really become the one to beat on this surface. Maria now heads to Wimbledon the favorite to take home that championship for the first time since 2004 after this incredibly impressive tournament from the 27-year-old.
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