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French Open Women's Final Predictions: Simona Halep vs Sloane Stephens

10 June, 2018, 00:27 | Author: Candice Daniels
  • Halep vs Kerber

Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens meet in the final of the 2018 tennis French Open. I just tried not to repeat the a year ago [Halep lost the 2017 French Open final].

U.S. Open champion Stephens used her powerful game to full effect to take the first set but then ran out of steam as Romania's Halep completed a memorable victory.

"When I was down a break in the second set I just tried to relax and enjoy the match". So, I said there is a chance to come back and win it. "I'm happy to do this and I do hope to play another final here because it's my favourite tournament".

Sloane Stephens beat compatriot and friend Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 to become the first American woman other than Venus or Serena Williams to reach the French Open final since Jennifer Capriati in 2001. I will say this, though. She's won 7.6% more points on serve (holding a magnificent 87.3% of the time) but Halep has won 3.7% more points on return (breaking opponents a stratospheric 63.3% - the best return data I can remember seeing for a long time).

Stephens avoided the embarrassment of a bagel in the final set but Halep held her serve to win her maiden Grand Slam title. She led Jelena Ostapenko by a set and 3-0 in last year's final at Roland Garros. There was a sense that if Stephens was going to win, she had to do so in two sets.

Keys attempted to respond three games later as she began picking off the Stephens serve, however, she squandered the two break points that came her way and her profligacy was ultimately punished. Stephens has dropped just one set this entire tournament and has been playing extremely clean tennis, making very few mistakes.

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Stephens is an incredibly talented defensive player, and she kept stretching points until Keys would err. For sure he is beatable, but you have to have the level, and Dominic has the level and you have to play the flawless match and the most important thing is you can't miss the occasions that you have.

Halep broke again but just when it looked as if the set was getting away from Stephens she produced a break of her own, to love no less, at a crucial moment.

Stephens praised Halep for her breakthrough victory in the immediate aftermath. Halep took the trophy 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. But an unforced error spoiled her one and only break point. Still only 26 and finally unshackled from that overwhelming sense of uncertainty, Halep will enter the second half of the season with a firm grip on her No. 1 ranking and a renewed sense of confidence. "Both of us will be ready to give everything we have", she said.

Stephens, 25, showed her class afterwards, saying: "Congratulations Simona on your first slam, it looks good on you".

No surprise then that the charismatic Stephens is not getting too far ahead of herself for Saturday's final against two-time runner-up and world number one Halep.

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