Simona Halep defeats Sloane Stephens to win maiden Grand Slam at French Open
Halep joins Virginia Ruzici as only the second Romanian women's champion at Roland Garros.
By Mathieu Wood
Last Updated: 10/06/18 7:22am
Simona Halep sealed her maiden Grand Slam title with a relentless performance to beat Sloane Stephens and win the French Open.
The 26-year-old had lost her three previous major showpiece encounters - including twice at Roland Garros - but recovered from a set and a break down to win 3-6 6-4 6-1 in two hours and three minutes.
Halep, who came into the final with back-to-back victories against two-time Grand Slam champions Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza, stopped Stephens securing a second major triumph after an absorbing contest.
"I was dreaming for this moment since I've started to play tennis," Halep said.
"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."
Did you know...
Ten years on from winning the French Open Girls' Singles, Simona Halep wins her first senior Grand Slam.
The early stages of the showpiece were a gripping watch as both players were involved in some lengthy baseline exchanges but it was Stephens who settled quickest in front of a capacity 15,000 Court Philippe Chatrier.
The American used her excellent court coverage and deceptive power to absorb Halep's greater aggression, before the 25-year-old converted her first break point opportunity in the fourth game.
Halep, who had the majority of support from the Paris crowd, stayed in contention to recover the break deficit with some clean ball striking but Stephens showed impressive composure to fend off a break point and close out the first set.
The US Open champion then asserted greater control on the contest after securing an early break at the start of the second set in a game where Stephens demonstrated good footwork to chase a drop shot down to hit a winner.
From 0-30 in the subsequent game, Stephens extricated herself from a position of concern to win four unanswered points to consolidate the advantage.
Halep maintained her intensity and broke the world No 10 at the next possible opportunity, as she won nine points in succession to move 3-2 ahead.
The Romanian sensed fatigue was catching up to her opponent as the errors grew from Stephens' racket to secure a second break but Halep was unable to seize her opportunity and handed the break straight back.
With Stephens two games from victory, Halep increased the pressure and secured a decisive break in the 10th game of the set to force a decider.
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After both players headed off court on a warm Parisian afternoon, it was Halep who maintained her momentum to break a weary and increasingly error prone Stephens to secure her fourth break before assured hitting backed up the break.
Halep had won five games on the bounce and made it a sixth after a series of exceptional points secured the double break lead, as both the crowd and the world No 1's support camp - including coach Darren Cahill - jumped off their seats in applause.
As the match neared the two hour mark, Stephens prolonged the match with a service hold before Halep closed out for a landmark success.
Match stats: Halep v Stephens
|Simona Halep||Sloane Stephens|
|First serve %||75%||75%|
|Points won on first serve||29/50||28/49|
|Points won on second serve||8/16||7/16|
|Net points won||6/8||1/2|
|Break points converted||4/5||3/6|
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