By Ros Satar, in Paris
- Simona Halep  def. Sloane Stephens  3-6 6-4 6-1
- Wins her first slam title on her fourth attempt, her third in Paris, and in her second Slam of the year
PARIS, FRANCE – Simona Halep made it third time lucky on the Paris terre battue, as she beat Sloane Stephens in three sets to win her maiden Grand Slam.
Simona Halep  def. Sloane Stephens  3-6 6-4 6-1
From the start of the match, both Sloane Stephens and Simona Halep did not shy away from going toe-to-toe. With Halep starting proceedings with a 25-shot rally to hold in her first service game, we were going to be in for lung-bursting rallies and fearsome hitting, and we were not disappointed.
Halep was being made to work so hard for each point, it was with an air of inevitability that Stephens was the first to punch through, and despite having a chance at the end of the set to break the American, on her only chance that set, Halep could not capitalise, as Stephens took the first step towards becoming a two-time Slam champion.
It was imperative that Halep did not let things get away from her and getting broken at the start of the second set was not the best way to lay the foundation for a three-setter. Then Stephens blinked, for just a few moments as Halep reeled off a love break and a love hold and a third game in a row to get ahead for the first time in the second set.
However a horror of a service game let Stephens back into the match as she got things back on serve but Halep clawed her way through to take the second set on her first set point, breaking Stephens once more.
Turning the start of the decider around from 0/30 to hold seemed to be the spur for Halep, who was working no less hard than in the first set but seemed to be less tense and frustrated, and with more of a purpose.
Breaking Stephens for a 3-0 lead, it was all about whether she could hold her nerve and keep the advantage – as it was her turn to start to run Stephens ragged.
It seemed fitting that Stephens could at least get herself on the board int he final set (a baguette, if you will) to force Halep to serve it out, but she only needed one match point to finally get over a line that had eluded her since she made her first Slam final here at the French Open in 2014.
On Court Reaction
For Stephens, it was her first loss in seven finals. Considering that she had often been the but of criticism for never having won a title before breaking her duck in Washington in 2015, and going on a spin of three titles before injury side-lined her for 11 months, this will have been bitter sweet.
She said, on court: “To Simona, congratulations on your first Slam, it looks great on you. No one else I’d rather lose to than the number one in the world.”
Few can forget the grace in the sight of the last two losses at a Slam final for Halep, and in particular the pain of losing in France last year.
Halep said: “Last year was tough to talk because I lost this match. Now it’s really emotional as a winner. I was dreaming of this moment since I was 14. I wanted this trophy to be here in France.”
Twitter Reactions to her win
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) June 9, 2018
So thoroughly deserved! 👏🏻 👏🏻 🏆 @Simona_Halep
— Johanna Konta (@JohannaKonta) June 9, 2018
Congrats Simona 🙏 Well deserved, great job! 🖐
— Karolina Pliskova (@KaPliskova) June 9, 2018
— Jonas Bjorkman (@BjorkmanTennis) June 9, 2018
CONGRATULATIONS, Simona – is what I‘m trying to say 🙏🏻 and thank you for teaching us all.
— Andrea Petkovic (@andreapetkovic) June 9, 2018
— Kevin Anderson (@KAndersonATP) June 9, 2018
SI MO NA 😭👏👏👏👏👏👏
— Daria Gavrilova (@Daria_gav) June 9, 2018
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Simonaaaaa! You did it. So happy for you. Enjoy every second. You deserve this moment so much 🎉❤️ #RG18
— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) June 9, 2018
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