French Open champion Simona Halep

May JohnsonJun 10, 2018

A hold to love meant Halep had taken eight unanswered points, and another break followed as Stephens' levels dipped for the first time in the match.

Simona Halep finally won her first career Grand Slam title after beating American Sloane Stephens in the French Open women's final in Paris.

"Thanks guys it was fantastic and I felt your support", Halep, twice a runner-up in Paris before Saturday, told the crowd.

"And then when I started to win games, I said that a year ago happened to me - same thing, I was set and a break up and I lost the match".

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

The second set was more of a seesaw affair, with five breaks of serve - three for Halep and two for the US Open champion - sending the final to a decider.

Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro wept courtside after downing third seed Marin Cilic 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 to set up a semifinal clash with Rafael Nadal.

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

She first came close to winning the French Open in 2014, losing a three-set final to Maria Sharapova. In one particularly dominant stretch, Halep won nine straight points.

"She didn't miss. I missed", Halep said regretfully. But it was a different story entirely as the second set went on.

Former player and commentator Rennae Stubbs was overjoyed seeing the 26-year-old do what Caroline Wozniacki finally did in Melbourne, where she edged out Halep for the crown.

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But the hard-hitting Romanian managed to turn the match around to finally break her grand slam final duck at the fourth attempt.

In the opening set, Stephens' sharp movement across the baseline enabled her to return everything Halep threw at her, while forcing the Romanian into errors and hitting some wonderful winners herself.

At this time past year, Stephens wasn't even ranked in the WTA top 100.

"I was very strong mentally to finish that", she said. She wheeled toward her box, which included United States national football team player Jozy Altidore, and shook a fist. "It's just how it's happened for me", Stephens had said and there are no predictions on what will happen but one will come out a victor and Halep might feel that this is her time and she's going to take the opportunity to come out on top here at Roland Garros right now.

Stephens faded after a bright start.

In a rematch of 2017 U.S. Open final, Stephens outclassed Keys 6-4, 6-4, refreshing her personal best record at Roland Garros.

Standing in her way is Halep, the world No 1 who is yet to claim a grand slam title of her own.

He had threatened to stop working with her, saying that Halep's negative body language and attitude were standing in her way. "I think if you try to go angles with them, you're going to be the one that's running - and not like it".

The Romanian star continued to dominate her opponent in the third set, taking a comfortable lead from the start.

Halep rose to the top of the world rankings for the first time in October and has been the leading player on the WTA Tour this year.

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