Tennis Expert & Columnist
Simona Halep ready to win first Grand Slam title in French Open final
World No 1 has lost all three of her previous major showpiece encounters, including two at Roland Garros; Romanian leads head to head against Stephens 5-2.
Last Updated: 09/06/18 1:25pm
Simona Halep has learned from previous near misses in Grand Slam finals and will secure her first major title when she faces Sloane Stephens in the French Open final, says Barry Cowan.
The Romanian reached her fourth showpiece encounter - third at Roland Garros - with an impressive straight-sets victory against former champion Garbine Muguruza on Thursday.
The world No 1 will retain her status at the summit of the game whatever the result against Sloane Stephens, who harbours ambition of a second Grand Slam success inside a year after her triumph at the US Open.
Did you know...
Simona Halep will become the first Romanian women's winner of the French Open since Virginia Ruzici in 1978 if she defeats Sloane Stephens.
Halep lost the first set of her first-round encounter but has since only dropped a set to two-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals, while Stephens has looked equally impressive, losing only one set against Camila Giorgi on her path to the final.
Halep has won the previous four matches between the pair, along with their only two contests on clay, and Cowan believes the 26-year-old is ready to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen on Saturday.
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"She has come close and suffered heartache 12 months ago and the disappointment in Australia but she has always fought, battled and come back to have another go.”
Barry Cowan on Simona Halep
"This is her time - I have felt that the last couple of rounds," Cowan told Sky Sports.
"I think the [Angelique] Kerber match was key for her - to come back and win after losing the first set.
"I really hope she does [win] - she deserves it. She has come close and suffered heartache 12 months ago [defeat to Jelena Ostapenko in the final] and the disappointment in Australia but she has always fought, battled and come back to have another go."
Route to the final: Simona Halep
|First Round||Alison Riske||2-6 6-1 6-1|
|Second Round||Taylor Townsend||6-3 6-1|
|Third Round||Andrea Petkovic||7-5 6-0|
|Fourth Round||Elise Mertens||6-2 6-1|
|Quarter-final||Angelique Kerber||6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-2|
|Semi-final||Garbine Muguruza||6-1 6-4|
"I see her as a very strong favourite [against Stephens]."
Halep will hope it is fourth time lucky when she takes to Court Philippe Chatrier and Cowan believes there are comparisons to be made with her fortunes and those of Andy Murray, who suffered Grand Slam final defeat on four occasions before his first title.
"I see a lot of similarities between Halep and Murray," Cowan said.
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"When you suffer the disappointment as Andy obviously did and Halep has it can in a strange way make you stronger."
Halep arrived in the French capital on the back of a positive clay court campaign, which included reaching the final of the Italian Open, and Cowan says her more positive game style is bearing fruition.
"I see Halep as a much better clay court player. I think her spirit is there and I see her as physically stronger," Cowan added.
"I think she is feeling more comfortable and her experiences have made her stronger.
"She appears to have been very relaxed these past couple of weeks and sometimes something tells you inside that it is your time.
"To beat [Garbine] Muguruza in the way that she did was a huge win. She hasn't had it easy and been forced to win some big matches."
Halep v Stephens: Tale of the Tape
|5ft 6in||Height||5ft 7in|
|£17.5million||Career prize money||£7.5million|
|28-6||Win-loss in 2018||15-8|
|1||Grand Slam titles||1|
|3||Grand Slam final defeats||0|
|6||French Open aces||3|
|14||French Open double faults||2|
|107mph||French Open fastest serve||111mph|
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