Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sports | By Sarah Myers

Wait worthwhile as Halep wins French Open

Wait worthwhile as Halep wins French Open

Simona Halep fought back from a set and a break down to break her grand slam hoodoo and defeat American Sloane Stephens in an entertaining French Open singles final on Sunday morning (AEST). However, Halep is not reading too much into her impressive record against Stephens.

"Thank you, guys - it was incredible and I felt your support", Halep said afterwards.

Indeed, there is something of a deja-vu feel from last year's final, where she was a heavy favourite over Jelena Ostapenko, and Halep needs to defeat Stephens to bury the ghosts from what must have been an incredibly deflating defeat - not to mention her best chance to win a Slam title.

"I think it was the most important game of the match", said Halep.

She did it the hard way, though, falling a set and a break behind to Stephens, who was hunting a second major title to add to her triumph at last year's US Open.

The tiebreaking ninth game of the third set essentially sealed the match, with Halep fending off three break points before claiming the lengthy battle.

"I will play for the fans from all over the world, because I know that many are hoping for me to win this Grand Slam finally", she vowed.

Garbine Muguruza annihilated the former world number one Maria Sharapova 6-2 6-1 on Wednesday to reach the French Open semi-finals.

Stevens netted a service return to bow out. Her semifinal victory over Venus Williams gave her a first career Grand Slam final. "I could make more things on court, and that's why I could win". Stephens earned three break points with a stunning forehand attack down the line and converted her first chance.

One can only imagine what was going through Halep's mind serving at 5-1 but an ace steadied her nerves before she claimed her first Grand Slam title at the 32nd attempt. Her shots were very, very deep and very aggressive constantly.

"I was dreaming about this moment since I started to play tennis".

"No matter how hard the adversity that you go through, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm glad she finally got her light", added Stephens, who recovered from foot surgery past year to win the US Open. She ended up with six double-faults and 27 total unforced errors, 12 more than Muguruza. "It's going to be who can stay in the point the longest", said Madison Keys, who lost to Stephens in the French Open semifinals Thursday and in the U.S. Open final last September.

But from 0-2 down in the second set, Halep was able to change the flow of the match.

Stephens had told of "no one else in the world I'd rather lose to". But she failed to convert any of those, and Halep held there, before breaking at love to end it. She broke to grab the second set when Stephens sailed a backhand wide, all part of a seven-game run that made it 5-0 in third.

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.

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

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