Maria Sharapova took the long route to success again, but it would have tasted a lot sweeter as the Russian clinched her second French Open title with a thrilling three-set win over the valiant Simona Halep.
It was not the path taken by Sharapova in her last three matches at the French Open, where she dropped the first set and then had to fight her way back into contention before closing out the match, but it was just as tense, as Halep, in her first Grand Slam final, made a real match of it, refusing to relent at any moment, barring the final few points in a final which lasted all of three hours and two minutes, the longest at Roland Garros since 1996.
The first set started swimmingly for Halep, with the No. 4 seed, looking to become the first Romanian since Virginia Ruzici in 1978 to win at Roland Garros, breaking Sharapova in the first game to jump into an early lead.
But the Russian would pull the first set back on serve at 2-2, before pulling out all the stops to clinch the set 6-4. Sharapova looked in control in the second, a break up, but Halep just would not go away with barely a whimper as a break back and an eventual tie-breaker saw the Romanian fight her way back into the match.
The decider was topsy-turvy, with serves counting for little, as Sharapova's big-match nous eventually came to her advantage, with the Russian prevailing in the final set 6-4 by winning her first match point.
"This is the toughest grand slam final I have ever played," said Sharapova after her 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-4 win. "I respect Simona a lot, I thought she played an unbelievable match today.
"I can't believe it, seven or eight years ago I would not have thought that I would win more Roland Garros than any other grand slam.
"To think I won it twice... I'm so emotional now I can't talk."
The title win for Sharapova means the French Open is the first grand Slam the 27-year-old has won twice, having won the US Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon once before. The French Open would have indeed been the last major that anyone would have thought Sharapova would win the most, showing just how much the pinup queen has improved on the surface.
For Halep, though, there are plenty of positives to take home, with the 22-year-old showing she is the real deal, with plenty of other big finals in Grand Slams, no doubt, waiting in the wings.
"It's my first grand slam page, emotionally it's difficult," Halep said. "I hope there will be many more but this one will be special for me all my life. Congrats Maria you're a great champion."