No. 1 Halep to face No. 10 Stephens in French Open final

Arnold Nichols
June 10, 2018

The Simona Halep vs Sloane Stephens tennis match will begin at around 6:30 PM IST.

The reigning U.S. Open champion led by a set and break before Simona Halep managed to turn Saturday's final around with her relentless energy to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

The crowd got firmly behind Halep in her win over 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals.

"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.

I just tried not to repeat the past year [Halep lost the 2017 French Open final].

"In the last game, I felt I could not breath any more", she said courtside.

Stephens was a set and a break up on Halep before the Romanian's greater stamina told in the final. After leveling the match at a set apiece, Halep looked sharper and more energetic in the first couple of games in the third set.

"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.

In her other grand slam final, in Paris in 2014, the 26-year-old lost a three-set battle to Maria Sharapova.

Stevens netted a service return to bow out.

'Congratulations on your first Slam.

Having never gone beyond the fourth round at Roland Garros before this year, she made a strong start against Halep. But it was a different story entirely as the second set went on.

Maybe all of those losses in Grand Slam finals helped Simona Halep actually win one. She rebounded with a four-point break to level the second set at 2-2, then stayed in the ascendance with another break to take a 4-2 lead.

It is the 11th time the 32-year-old Spaniard has reached the French Open last four, becoming only the third man in history to achieve the feat at a single Grand Slam, alongside Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors. Her shots were very, very deep and very aggressive constantly.

From 4-all in the second, Halep grabbed seven games in a row to take that set and build a 5-0 edge in third.

"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 previous year to win the US Open. "I think if you try to go angles with them, you're going to be the one that's running - and not like it".

Halep entered the final as the favorite given her clay-court prowess, higher ranking and holding a 5-2 head-to-head record against her rival. Halep refused to panic, and slowly and surely Stephens started to lose heart.

Around this time a year ago Sloane Stephens was ranked 957 in the world, but on Saturday she could become a double grand slam victor. Serena Williams is obviously going to be the biggest star in American tennis until her career is over.

Halep reads the game beautifully and flows around the court with a rare grace, and her quest for a Grand Slam title underscored her steely side.

German Andrea Petkovic - a former top-10 player now ranked 107th in the world - sent a message to Halep's critics.

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