Tuesday, 23 October, 2018

Halep wins first Grand Slam with comeback over Stephens

Halep vs Kerber Halep takes on Kerber for the 10th time in her career Credit Reuters
Tamara Craig | 10 June, 2018, 10:16

When serving for the set, Stephens survived a break point to go on and win the opener 6-3 and looked to have the edge.

"So I said there is a chance to come back and win it".

Stephens on Thursday closed in on her second Grand Slam title by beating pal Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 in the first all-American semi-final at the French Open since 2002.

U.S. Open champion Stephens out-fought Halep to take the opening set and was a break up in the second but the world number one wound her way back into contention before running away with the deciding set.

"I believed and I never gave up".

However, her sights now turn to the final where she is desperate to erase the memories of last year's horror show where she surrendered a set and a 3-0 lead to lose to Jelena Ostapenko. She lost the title match to Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open in January. Stephens won the sixth game before Halep held her serve and completed the victory in front of a delighted Parisien crowd.

Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens have started their French Open final on Court Philippe Chatrier. "I don't want to think about that.it's a different match, different situation", she said.

Simona Halep didn't need a major to validate her No. 1 ranking.

"Her journey has been tough and she had a heartbreak here a year ago and in Australia and all the things that have happened to her", Stephens said.

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"She [Stephens] is a great player and it's always tough to play against her", she said. Because previous year I was a little bit defensive when I was leading the match, and now I just change it in my mind. In the early stages of the match, Halep could find no holes in Stephens's game as the American glided along the baseline, absorbing pace and striking when she sensed an opportunity of her own.

The duo have played each other seven times previously with Halep winning on five occasions including their last meeting at Roland Garros in 2014.

Sloane Stephens of The United States looks dejected during the ladies singles final against Simona Halep of Romania during day fourteen of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on June 9, 2018 in Paris, France. It's the first semifinal between a pair of American women at Roland Garros since Serena Williams beat Jennifer Capriati on her way to the 2002 title.

Simona Halep appears to be the clear favourite to win this match, which probably means she won't win it.

Winning Grand Slams is paramount to that.

"When I was down a break in the second set I thought 'Everything is gone, I'm gonna start to relax and enjoy the match, ' and I came back".

Halep in stride had Stephens grasping. It certainly isnt very easy to overcome being a set down in the final of a Grand Slam you've already lost a couple of times.

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.

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