Simona Halep Recovers From A Set Down to Win Maiden Grand Slam Title at Roland Garros

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Romanian Simona Halep is your 2018 French Open women’s singles champion. It’s been a long road to this result for the world #1 Halep, and here is a look at how she triumphed against Sloane Stephens in the final.

Simona Halep Beats Sloane Stephens in 3 Sets

In her third French Open final, Simona Halep faced off with American Sloane Stephens in a matchup where she began as the favorite. However Stephens, last year’s US Open Champion, was the one who got off to the winning start. Halep was broken in game 4 and from there dropped the set 6-3 despite a small chance to get back on even terms in the final game of set 1.

With the pressure on in set 2, Halep didn’t crack. The Romanian and world #1 recovered from dropping her opening service game in set 2 to break back for 2-2, and then get a 4-2 lead that she never quite surrendered. With Stephens serving to make the match 5-5 in set 2, Halep stepped in to break and force a third set.

In that third set, Halep simply dominated as the American faded away giving up consecutive breaks that cleared the path to Halep’s maiden grand slam title. Stephens would get a tough hold to avoid the bagel, but in the end it didn’t matter as Halep took the contest 3-6 6-4 6-1 over a heartbroken Stephens.

The victory has been a long time coming for Halep. She became world #1 last October (and was world #2 in 2014). However, she was the runner up in three Grand Slam finals, two of which came in Paris at the French Open. On top of that, all of those finals were three set affairs, creating the impression that Halep could get to the cusp of victory, but never quite prevail. When given the opportunity to face Stephens, a challenging but far from elite opponent on clay, Halep pounced to capture the greatest joy of her career.

Looking back at her results at Roland Garros for 2018, Halep dropped the opening set against Alison Riske in round 1 and looked shaky. However, like Stephens, Riske faded late and from there Halep went on a tear downing Taylor Townsend, Andrea Petkovic, Elise Mertens, Angelique Kerber, and Garbine Muguruza to reach the final. Only against Kerber was she again challenged, dropping the opening set but easing to victory in sets 2 and 3.

Stephens should also be proud of her accomplishments this Roland Garros. She wasn’t known for being an elite player on clay, but she reached her second ever slam final on the surface with some big victories over the likes of Camila Giorgi and her fellow American Madison Keys. Stephens looks set to become a more well rounded player on the WTA Tour and continue to compete for Grand Slams.

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