(Updates after second set)
PARIS, June 7 (Reuters) - Simona Halep took the French Open women’s final into a third set when the Romanian fourth seed won the second 7-6(5) after losing the first 6-4 against Russian seventh seed Maria Sharapova on Saturday.
Russian Sharapova, chasing her fifth grand slam title and second at Roland Garros, was 2-0 up in the second set but Halep recovered to force a tiebreak that she won when her opponent fired wide.
Halep, hoping to become the second Romanian woman to win a grand slam title after her manager Virginia Ruzici won at Roland Garros in 1978, broke in the first game of the match when Sharapova sent a backhand long despite having an open court at her disposal.
Sharapova unsettled Halep with her crosscourt shots but the wily Romanian held on for 2-0.
The Russian bombarded Halep with powerful forehands and managed to break back for 2-2 on her fourth chance when Halep’s crosscourt backhand went wide.
Sharapova’s third double fault gave Halep another break point, which the Russian saved with another forehand winner down the line before holding for 3-2 after four deuces.
The Russian broke for 4-2, went to 5-2 and then lost two games before taking the set on her opponent’s serve when Halep fired a crosscourt forehand wide.
Sharapova won the first game of the second set to love and broke in the second with the contest seemingly heading for a swift conclusion.
Halep would not give up, however, and broke back by forcing Sharapova to net a backhand as the crowd roared “Simona, Simona”.
They exchanged four breaks in a row as the set went into a tiebreak and the clock ticked past the two-hour mark. Halep went 5-3 down but then scored four points in a row to send the match into a deciding set. (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Alan Baldwin)