Halep wins first Grand Slam title

Heather Diaz
June 10, 2018

Simona Halep finally shook off the shackles of her own expectations to clinch a Grand Slam title at the fourth time of asking in a final. The reference to her book seemed rather irrelevant given the one-sided nature of yesterday's match - Sharapova won only three games.

Wimbledon begins in about three weeks' time, and Halep can certainly translate her offense-defense combination to grass.

"I don't know who said that I feel pressure". Probably nothing, because I will keep my routine. I'm just going to take it in stride and just enjoy it and go out and compete. Stephens slowed down and Halep turned up the heat with an intensity that led to her first Grand Slam title.

Halep has been in fine form so far at Roland Garros and eased past former victor Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4 in the last four - a victory which also ensured she will remain the world number one at the end of the tournament. However, despite how well Halep has played up to this point, she has a lot of showing and proving to do, as she's developed a history of choking in final appearances.

Halep, who was beaten in the 2017 final despite holding a set and 3-0 lead against Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, kept up the momentum in the third set on Saturday to open up a 5-0 lead before earning a match point with a raging smash. I don't think you have to be mean in order to win matches.

"I think it would be odd for me not to include someone that I have competed against for so many years", Sharapova said.

The 25-year-old, who was ranked 957 in the world less than a year ago after her injury woes, was using her bigger forehand to good effect as Halep struggled to make any inroads into her opponent's serve. I just try to stay calm and play my game. (Not to brag.) Sloane Stephens is playing great tennis, and it's hard to pick against someone experiencing such a meteoric rise.

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Halep has come up short in two French Open finals in 2014 and 2016 as well as at this year's Australian Open.

The 10th-seeded Stephens had never made it past the fourth round in Paris until now. So like I said, making the quarter-finals here was a big deal for me. Halep has been on the cusp of winning Slams before, but she has cracked mentally on every occasion, losing all three of her finals in three sets. "Of course, both she and Halep are having fantastic runs at the 2018 French Open, but Stephens in particular has been reinvigorated".

Stephens managed to land a couple of late blows, but Halep confidently served it out, sealing victory on her first match point when her opponent netted a return.

Third time lucky for gutsy Halep?

"This is the furthest she has ever reached at Roland-Garros". It would be very odd, I think, if I didn't write anything about her.

"It's tough to speak now", the 2009 U.S. Open champion said.

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