Simona Halep wins first Grand Slam at French Open

Halep has won all seven matches against left-handers this campaign

World number one Simona Halep gets a fourth chance to finally win a Grand Slam title when she starts as favourite in the French Open final against American Sloane Stephens on Saturday.

After breaking Stephens to even the match at one set apiece, she jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the final set.

"So, I lost three times until now and no one died, so it will be OK, " said Halep when asked about her previous major finals.

Halep ensured Stephens would have to serve the set out, and forced a break point of her own, but the 25-year-old front-runner held her nerve to take it in 42 minutes.

Halep drew on the memories of her unpleasant experiences in a 2014 French Open final defeat to Maria Sharapova, a showdown with Jelena Ostapenko a year ago and her Australian Open loss to Caroline Woznacki in January to pull herself off the ropes.

Sloane Stephens said she could not be satisfied but was still proud of herself after losing a French Open final that was all about recovery and resilience, on both sides of the net. She won more points while Halep made more unforced errors.

Winner, Simona Halep of Romania (R) and runner up Sloane Stephens of The United States (L) celebrate with their trophies following the ladies singles final during day fourteen of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on June 9, 2018 in Paris, France.

Halep - the world's top-ranked player - entered the Roland Garros finale without a grand slam win despite reaching three deciders, two of which were in Paris.

During the trophy ceremony, Stephens - more experienced in such matters, given her triumph in NY last September - noticed that Halep was casually holding her new silver trophy. I just tried not to repeat the past year [Halep lost the 2017 French Open final].

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After consoling Stephens, she climbed into the stands to embrace Romania's former Olympic gymnastics champion Nadia Comaneci and 1978 Roland Garros victor Virginia Ruzici, the last Romanian to win a Grand Slam title. After sitting out almost a year because of surgery on her right foot in January 2017, she has soared up the rankings and now made it to her second major final in the past nine months. But Halep was as steady as could be down the home stretch on Saturday.

Halep earned a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory, and that win brought a huge reaction from the Paris crowd that was clearly supporting the Romanian star over the American.

She was rewarded with a break in the second and fourth games to take a 4-0 lead looking totally in charge of proceedings.

It is Halep's first Grand Slam title after she lost twice in the French Open final and was runner-up at the Australian Open earlier this year.

Sloane Stephens led Simona Halep by a set and a break at 2-0 in the second of their French Open final. "I think the first set I was a little bit tight in the beginning, and after I just enjoyed and relaxed".

She yearned for a Grand Slam title to go with her WTA ranking.

"For all the haters who said she'll never win a slam because she's mentally weak, go choke on that", Petkovic posted.

Nadal has a 49-0 record in the past two years against opponents other than Thiem when competing on clay.

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