Simona Halep surges back against Sloane Stephens to win French Open

GETTYSerena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open

And while Halep finally won that coveted trophy after so many near-misses-last year's crushing loss to Jelena Ostapenko, the 2018 Australian Open defeat to Caroline Wozniacki and so many more-Saturday's match, a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory over Sloane Stephens, initially looked like another disappointment in waiting, the latest proof that the Romanian couldn't win the big one.

Her first win in the tour since NY arrived in February in Acapulco. She's been the best player week-to-week on tour since Serena Williams took her pregnancy leave.

Halep reads the game beautifully and flows around the court with a rare grace, and her quest for a Grand Slam title underscored her steely side.

Stephens's run to Saturday's final comes after a roller-coaster year since her US Open stunner.

She elected to receive and looked nervous from the start as Stephens easily held in the opening game.

The final between Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens takes place on Saturday 9 June at Roland-Garros and starts at 2pm (UK time).

Simona Halep didn't need a major to validate her No. 1 ranking.

After the first five games, they had 18 combined unforced errors and five winners. "We don't have to forget that, we have to be aware of that, but also not give too much importance to that otherwise it can get in your head and it's not helping". It won't be easy against a mentally strong and physically fit Stephens. But she fell apart and eventually lost to the unseeded Latvian in her second French Open final.

Moya, the 1998 French Open champion, added: "Dominic plays very heavy topspin, very aggressive, good fitness condition, he's probably the best clay-court player right now, along with Rafa".

Halep, owning a 6-5 record this season after losing the first set, struggled to find a way to change effectively her pattern.

"Not the trophy I wanted", Stephens said, looking at her runner-up plate, "but it's still attractive". This feels like it's finally her time. She used her stunning defense to hit a perfectly placed lob and force Halep to mis-hit an off-balance smash.

She fought back from a set down against Maria Sharapova in 2014 only to lose a tight decider, before seeing a set and 3-0 lead disappear in a barrage of Jelena Ostapenko winners a year ago. Halep's only way to win this match is in straight sets. She is now slotted at No. 4 in the world.

The Romanian, who lost in last year's final at Roland Garros, defeated Kerber 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2 to book a clash with Garbine Muguruza in the last four. It started to pay a dividend and the Romanian forced a break point when Stephens served for the set.

Halep, however, surrendered the advantage and it went to 4-4.

With the crowd more and more loudly chanting "Si-mo-na!" On the last point of the second game, Stephens scampered and put up a superb lob that prompted a Halep error. It was an indication of things to come - in the first set. "But I will be, I think, more confident, because I have a lot of experience".

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