Simona Halep, Sloane Stephens reach French Open final
Jun 09 2018 by Marjorie Miles
World number one Simona Halep says she will "stay chilled" in Saturday's French Openfinal as she attempts to vanquish memories of defeat in her previous three Grand Slam finals.
After racing through the first set, Halep saved three break points in a marathon ninth game of the second which lasted 13 minutes.
This afternoon she must defy the brilliance and athleticism of American Stephens, who will be competing in her first final at Roland Garros, in order to get her hands on the Suzanne Lenglen cup. Stephens closed in on her second Grand Slam title by beating pal Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday in the first all-American semifinal at the French Open since 2002. Plus, now that she has a Grand Slam win at her back, you can not predict Halep to be the outright victor just yet. It will be intriguing to see who turns out to be the more aggressive and attacking player in the final.
Halep went all out in the first set but her bold strategy backfired badly as she hit 30 unforced errors.
"That's the easiest way to compete, when you're not thinking about too many things".
Keys has reached the quarter-finals in her last three consecutive Grand Slams as the 23-year-old continues to make strides ahead at the highest level. It's just how it's happened for me", Stephens said, "I think once I get going in a tournament, I'm pretty consistent, which is good.
After the five-time Grand Slam victor Sharapova lost in the French Open quarterfinals to Garbine Muguruza, she hit back at Williams' accusations and comments about her book. Muguruza won 58 percent of her return points and broke six times in her quarterfinal victory. Stephens has now followed that up by once again defeating Keys to reach the final in Paris.
But Keys, who made 23 unforced errors in the first set, hit back hard and set up a break point at 3-2, only for Stephens to save it with a service return victor.
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"I think I played one of my best matches on clay against a great opponent", added Halep, who will be appearing in her fourth final at the majors having also been beaten in Australia in January.
The Romanian underlined that pedigree with a straight-sets scorching of Spaniard Muguruza-who is herself a daunting figure on clay.
She has acknowledged having trouble handling her nerves, which is part of why she was so proud about the way she overcame Kerber, a two-time major champion and former No 1. "I think if you try to go angles with them, you're going to be the one that's running - and not like it".
Sloane Stephens may be the underdog, but she is more than capable of denying Halep once more. And it's always tough against her.
"I think it would be odd for me not to include someone that I have competed against for so many years", Sharapova said.
"When you're writing an autobiography, I don't think there is any reason to write anything that's not true", said Sharapova. "I missed a lot at the beginning of the match".
I want to side with Halep, but I can't bet against Muguruza in her current form. "Not me, obviously. I don't feel pressure", she said on Friday.
Muguruza has not dropped a set so far in this year's tournament as she seeks a second championship in Paris and third major trophy overall.