Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

Simona Halep wins French Open, beating Sloane Stephens

Simona Halep wins French Open, beating Sloane Stephens

Simona Halep, who is number one in the WTArankings, clinched her maiden Grand Slam title by beating 2017 USOpen champion Sloane Stephens in the French Open final in Paris on Saturday.

Romanian Halep's best chance came past year when she was a set and 3-0 ahead against unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, only to suffer a heartbreaking defeat.

Top seed Simona Halep insisted that she "doesn't feel pressure" ahead of her third French Open final on Saturday, where she will face American Sloane Stephens.

"I believed in that, and my game was more relaxed".

Halep drew on the memories of her unpleasant experiences in a 2014 French Open final defeat to Maria Sharapova, a showdown with Jelena Ostapenko past year and her Australian Open loss to Caroline Woznacki in January to pull herself off the ropes. At this year's Australian Open, she was defeated in the final by Caroline Wozniacki, again in three sets. But an unforced error spoiled her one and only break point.

Standing in her way is U.S. Open champion Stephens who has scythed down opponents with her power game.

Amidst shouts of her name, she found a way around the steadiness of Stephens, who had won her first Grand Slam at the 2017 US Open.

"Her journey has been tough and she had a heartbreak here past year and in Australia and all the things that have happened to her", Stephens said. She's a great player, always tough to play. In the last game I felt like I could not breathe anymore.

As Halep scurried to chase a shot that turned into a drop shot for Stephens and won the point for 4-0, her coach Darren Cahill leaped out of his chair and pumped his fist.

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Jutanugarn is only 22, and she won't mind discussing the past couple of hours of this Women's Open like Palmer on his '66 debacle. Jutanugarn said support from her family and coaches helped her stay positive and come through with her ninth LPGA Tour win.

On Thursday, it was more of the same as the 25-year-old capitalised on her friend's big match nerves.

Simona Halep has leveled at one-set all in the French Open final against Sloane Stephens, winning the second set 6-4. But she failed to convert any of those, and Halep held there, before breaking at love to end it.

Jun 7, 2018, Paris, France: Simona Halep (ROU) celebrates match point during her match against Garbine Muguruza (ESP) on day 12 of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros. It's my favorite Grand Slam.

The match flipped definitively when Halep won nine consecutive points in the second set. The matchup was the first All-American semifinal match at Roland Garros since 2002.

A first-ever Grand Slam final defeat in straight sets for Halep looked likely as soon as Stephens claimed the first game of the second set on her fourth break point.

However, Halep, in her fourth Grand Slam final, was not to be denied, claiming the Suzanne Lenglen trophy on her 32nd appearance at a Grand Slam.

After three losses in major finals, maybe Halep was trying to convince herself as much as anyone else she actually could do it. After leveling the match at a set apiece, Halep looked sharper and more energetic in the first couple of games in the third set.

A little more than four months later, Halep is feeling quite a bit better.

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