Sloane steady wins the race for Stephens

10 June, 2018, 10:12 | Author: Alyssa Little
  • Sharapova and Muguruza

The world number one admitted that she thought she was destined for a fourth consecutive major final loss when she trailed American Sloane Stephens 6-3, 2-0, before going on to claim a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory.

Backed by fans who loudly chanted her first name between games, Halep went ahead 3-0 in only 15 minutes with the help of only one victor.

"Congratulations to Simona. There is no-one else I'd rather lose to than the number one in the world", Stephens, who will rise to four in the rankings, said.

"That's the most important thing - that I stay there focused", said Halep, the first Romanian to collect a major title since her manager, Virginia Ruzici, at the 1978 French Open.

"In the last game I didn't feel like I could breathe any more and I didn't want to repeat a year ago, so I did everything I could". At this year's Australian Open, she was defeated in the final by Caroline Wozniacki, again in three sets. In one particularly dominant stretch, Halep won nine straight points.

From the beginning of the match, the 10th-ranked Stephens was clearly superior on her serve, and offered resistance on Halep's.

Halep, now with momentum on her side, continued to push forward and broke Stephens' serve in the very first game of the third set.

With this victory, Simona Halep consolidates her lead in the WTA ranking of the best women's players in the world and joins the hall of fame of Romanian sports, alongside champions such as Ilie Nastase, Nadia Comaneci and Gheorghe Hagi.

"Show the world your trophy", Stephens said when asked what she had told the victor.

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"It's a great story and just a great moment for her".

Previous year was tough to talk because I lost this match.

The 26-year old is clearly a popular figure on the women's tour, and a host of names took to social media to congratulate her on her success, including Britain's shining light Johanna Konta.

A string of defeats followed that unbelievable feat but she kept focused until defying the odds by going all the way to Saturday's final in Paris. Stephens gets the opportunity to prove that blowing it against Halep won't be a downturn in her career. And she claims she will be under no pressure when she steps out at Roland Garros. "I think the first set I was a little bit tight in the beginning, and after I just enjoyed and relaxed".

Simona Halep appears to be the clear favourite to win this match, which probably means she won't win it.

And once the Romanian levelled the match at one set apiece, she never looked back, racing through the decider to the delight of a pro-Halep crowd.

Of course, it could have all been different if Serena Williams didn't have to retire before her round of 16 match with Maria Sharapova, the American's first Grand Slam back since giving birth in September 2017.

Jana Novotna, the Czech star, also lost her first three major finals, finally winning Wimbledon in 1998.

She is 5-2 against Stephens, including winning their past four matches.

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