Tennis Podcast: What French Open finalist Sloane Stephens is really like

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Stephens put a tired backhand wide to hand Halep the set and there was only going to be one victor from there as Halep turned the screws to break and then move 4-0 ahead when she chased a drop shot down and was equal to Stephens' attempted lob.

PARIS, June 9 ― World number one Simona Halep ended years of heartache to clinch her first Grand Slam title with 3-6 6-4 6-1 victory over American Sloane Stephens in the French Open final today. 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.

Simona Halep has lifted the French Open trophy and says she "just tried not to repeat the same as a year ago".

"I was dreaming for this moment since I started to play tennis so thank you and I'm really happy it has happened in Roland Garros in Paris, my special city".

Stephens was a set and a break up on Halep before the Romanian's greater stamina told in the final.

Stephens regularly threatened the Halep serve, though finally faced a break point at 5-3.

"I am very pleased to be in another semi-final in Paris", said Muguruza who has yet to drop a set in the tournament and claimed her first win over Sharapova in four meetings.

After making 30 unforced errors in the first set, which she lost 7-6 (2), Halep finally found the right rhythm to dictate points with deep groundstrokes and aggressive returns. Her semifinal victory over Venus Williams gave her a first career Grand Slam final.

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

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The second set was more of a test for Halep, who was ahead by a set and 3-0 before falling apart against Ostapenko a year ago.

The Romanian says she is more relaxed, and more fatalistic, this year - and it certainly showed on court.

Furthermore, Halep leads the head to head series between the two players 5-2, and has taken their last four encounters. "Not me, obviously. I don't feel pressure", she said on Friday. She was determined to make the 2018 French Open championship match against Sloane Stephens a different experience. As Stephens looked airtight through a first-set win and a 2-0 lead in the second, and through a whole bale of long rallies causing appreciative applause, it looked like a reinforcement of Stephens's 2017 U.S. Open win, as well as the notion of Stephens as a top-five-caliber player.

"I think I played one of my best matches on clay against a great opponent", added Halep, who will be appearing in her fourth final at the majors having also been beaten in Australia in January. Stephens started missing. A double-fault here.

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

"Congratulations to Simona. There is no-one else I'd rather lose to than the number one in the world".

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.

Russian tennis player Elena Vesnina praises Halep.

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