Romania's Halep Beats American Stephens to Take French Open Title

Sharapova and Muguruza

Romanian Simona Halep won the first Grand Slam of her career, beating American Sloane Stephens at the French Open Saturday in Paris. But this year, she faces an opponent against whom she has a decent head-to-head (5-2) including two wins on clay.

"It's very emotional. I've been waiting for this moment since I was 14", she told the crowd after lifting the trophy up in the air, then kissing it.

Muguruza raced to a 4-0 lead and never looked back. Stephens went on to win three straight points, the game and the set. Then the tide turned. "I just have to start to relax and enjoy the match"'. The Romanian, who dropped the first set in three of her four major finals, had probably thought to have won that point at least twice.

But Halep had re-found herself.

Stephens broke for 3-1 and looked in control against a more anxious opponent who had started to put ore air under her shots with some moonballs. "I believe that I have the game to win the match". But at 15-15 in the subsequent game, she missed a golden opportunity for a victor down the line. Still only 26 and finally unshackled from that overwhelming sense of uncertainty, Halep will enter the second half of the season with a firm grip on her No. 1 ranking and a renewed sense of confidence. Although Halep leads the head-to-head match-up, this is the final of a major. She was now decidedly superior.

Romania's Simona Halep celebrates after victory over Germany's Andrea Petkovic at the end of their women's singles third round match on day seven of The Roland Garros 2018 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on 2 June 2018.

It was not to be, the powerful American running out of steam after a great start. After one error, exasperated, she slapped her thigh in frustration.

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The Romanian failed to consolidate it, however and misdirected three forehands to help Stephens break back at love to 3-4. She capped off the fourth game with a wonderful victor at the net. Stephens has now followed that up by once again defeating Keys to reach the final in Paris. Halep rolled to a 6-1 third-set victory, and to the title. She was on a long road back from foot surgery. Halep also seems to be mentally strong, not allowing mistakes to leak into her game and pointing to her head after big points, knowing she has to stay focused.

Wimbledon next. but first a party and a holiday!

A few days later, she secured her first major semifinal appearance since the Australian Open at the beginning of 2013. Halep tends to fall apart in Grand Slam finals, so it will be interesting to see if she can get over the hurdle.

In womens' play, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys were to play for a spot in the French Open final.

Another grand slam chance for Simona Halep. Same site, same tournament.

It was 5-0 by the time Muguruza eventually claimed a game.

Stephens picked up from where she left off in the second by breaking in a fantastic opening game.