PARIS -- This one might take some getting over.
When Simona Halep lost her first Grand Slam final at the French Open in 2014 to Maria Sharapova, Halep could console herself with the fact that the Russian was a multiple major champion, and that more than likely, her time would come.
That time should have been Saturday at Roland Garros, at least on paper. But when Halep led by a set and 3-0 in the second, with three chances to go up 4-0, she became unnerved, perhaps thinking about what it would feel like to lift the trophy.
And then the fearless Latvian, Jelena Ostapenko, blasted winner after winner past Halep and worked her way back into the match. Ostapenko denied Halep not only a first Slam title but also the world No. 1 ranking. When Halep faced the media soon after, it was all too clear how she felt.
"This one hurts a lot maybe because I realize more what is happening," the Romanian said. "Three years ago was something new, so now I know. It hurts a lot, and I need time just to -- I don't know [to make it] go away."
Ostapenko hit 54 winners, but it wasn't just the sheer number -- it was also the timing. Ostapenko, 20, won the important points, including late in the third set. She also coped brilliantly with the occasion in what was just her eighth Grand Slam event. But Halep, 25, said she felt sick to her stomach in the previous 24 hours leading up to the final as she tried, in vain, to get the enormity of the occasion out of her mind.
"It was tough," Halep said. "I was very close to take the first Grand Slam and also No. 1 in the world. So it was a little bit of, like, emotional moment, but that's it. I think everyone has it, and it's good. I want to have many more, if it's possible. That's why I work 20 years and played 20 years to have this moment."
In retrospect, Halep probably would have liked to have been more aggressive, but she knew going in that she would be outhit -- that there would be periods when she would just watch the ball fly by, unable to do anything about it.
"I felt like a spectator," she said. "
When the disappointment fades, she will remember that she played a solid tournament for six-plus matches. In time, she is likely to have her shot at Grand Slam glory and, perhaps, the No. 1 ranking.
So what now for Halep? She may struggle to regain her form in the short grass-court season, and we have seen many a player suffer a dip after getting so close to the ultimate prize. Perhaps she will feel more at home on the hard courts later in the summer.
"I don't believe I did something too wrong today," Halep said. "I think I played OK. I played well. I think a little bit of luck in some points, all the lines, all the nets. ... I don't know. I think everything was by her side today. She deserved to win. She played really well in the very tough moments.
"So I can say I was there, I was close, but again, I lost it. I cannot change anything, so I just have to look forward."