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4th time's the charm: Halep tops Stephens to win French Open

09 Juin 2018

Stephens is gearing up to face Simona Halep in the French Open final this afternoon in a bid to win her second career Grand Slam.

There, Halep will be searching for a first Roland Garros win after previously losing there in 2014 and 2017. Stephens played gradually shorter, struggled to open her shoulders to go for her shots and committed her 25th unforced error, netting a forehand, to give Halep a 4-2 lead in a huge turn of events. "I dreamed of this moment since I started to play tennis and I can't believe it".

Kerber eventually prevailed in a tiebreak, but Halep came out all guns blazing in the second, firing baseline bullets at her opponent, who tried to cling on against the onslaught.

But Halep wasted the chance with her 10th unforced error and Stephens made her pay, drilling an unreturnable backhand into the corner to wrap up the set after just 41 minutes.

She improved to 3-0 against her longtime pal and Fed Cup teammate Keys, including their U.S. Open final last September.

Stevens netted a service return to bow out. Halep has lost six of her last seven final appearances overall and is 0-3 in grand slam final appearances for her career. At the Miami Open in March, she won the title, beating four major champions in a row. The Romanian, who had strangely said to consider Keys and Stephens similar players after her semifinal win, reacted to Stephens' game bur her game lacked depth.

But the story of Saturday is how Stephens let her second Grand Slam title get away.

However, she must have had a sense of deja vu as her compatriot and good friend Stephens made light work of her on Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a final Saturday against Simona Halep. And her victory didn't lack for theatrics, as she looked dead set on a path to defeat after Stephens' hot start and yet left her opponent without any answers in a 6-1 closing set. "So I have always, you know, and especially having a daughter, like, I feel like negativity is taught".

Halep asserted her supremacy in the third set, almost handing Stephens a bagel and giving herself a sizable cushion for any late nerves.

From there, Halep was firmly in control, and after securing the second set to force a decider, she rattled off the first five games of the third set.

"It was very nice to play like that", Halep said.

The match was all but ended as Halep clinched the double break in game four after some magnificent defending in one of the points of the match. "Her strong serving and power-hitting seemed a little too intense against Stephens, who had all the answers on Thursday", Becker wrote.

If Stephens holds her high ranking and can make her way to more Grand Slam finals this year and beyond, this sort of loss could prove beneficial to her long-term outlook. But she failed to convert any of those, and Halep held there, before breaking at love to end it.

4th time's the charm: Halep tops Stephens to win French Open