Feisty Halep to face chilled out Stephens in Paris

Feisty Halep to face chilled out Stephens in Paris

It was a stark contrast to what Stephens was doing an hour prior, when she won 6-3 and then held a 2-0 advantage in the second set.

Paris: For a while Simona Halep's third French Open final looked like ending in familiar heartache but the Romanian eventually wore down Sloane Stephens for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory and claim her long-overdue first Grand Slam title on Saturday.

"Thanks guys it was fantastic and I felt your support", Halep, twice a runner-up in Paris before today, told the crowd who were chanting her name.

Simona Halep has lifted the French Open trophy and says she "just tried not to repeat the same as previous year". I believed in that, and my game was more relaxed. Halep thus won the decisive set 6-1.

"Not many players ever get to a Grand Slam final and I have won one and been in another one in a short period of time", she said. She fell in three sets, just as she had to Maria Sharapova in the French Open final three years earlier, and just as she would in the 2018 Australian Open final to Caroline Wozniacki.

Backed by plenty of noisy Romanian support, Halep broke again for 4-0 after an astonishing point in which she wore Stephens down with her relentless returning.

"Not the trophy I wanted", Stephens said, looking at her runner-up plate, "but it's still attractive". She showed she had learned from her two losses, especially the loss in 2017 to Jelena Ostapenko after leading by a set and 3-0 in the second.

However, she must have had a sense of deja vu as her compatriot and good friend Stephens made light work of her on Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a final Saturday against Simona Halep.

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For the first time in a young career filled with both success and heartbreak, Simona Halep is a Grand Slam champion.

The frustration of being behind seemed to spur Halep on and she reeled off four straight games as the level of Stephens, indeed the whole match, went down from what was seen in the first set. The Spaniard won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon a year ago.

There were no tears Saturday afternoon, no falling to her knees, no flopping on her back to make a clay angel on the court. I have just to play like I did yesterday (against Muguruza).

Upon receiving the trophy she added: "Last year was very emotional so I was living for this moment since I was 14 so thank you and I wanted this moment to happen here in France". I had two double faults, so it was a bit tough.

"There's no one else I'd rather lose to than the number one in the world".

After racing through the first set, Halep saved three break points in a marathon ninth game of the second which lasted 13 minutes.

Halep beat Stephens the last four times they played each other.

While victor Simona Halep had a lot to prove after losing her three previous finals at Grand Slam tournaments, Stephens knows all about coming back from nowhere after spending almost a year on the sidelines with a foot injury. If Halep was able to handle the cross shots of Muguruza and Kerber, she should have the ability to control this match as well.

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