Simona Halep beats Sloane Stephens to win French Open and first major

Seeing her opponents come back against her in grand slam finals, this time Simona Halep turned the tables to end her ...

Posted: Jun 10, 2018 6:21 PM
Updated: Jun 10, 2018 6:21 PM

Seeing her opponents come back against her in grand slam finals, this time Simona Halep turned the tables to end her drought.

The Romanian rallied from a set and break deficit to beat Sloane Stephens 3-6 6-4 6-1 and win the French Open on Saturday along with her first grand slam title following three near misses.

Halep beats Stephens 3-6 6-4 6-1

Wins first major title after three losses in grand slam finals

Stephens lost her first final

With chants of "Si-mo-na, Si-mo-na" reverberating around Philippe-Chatrier court and Romanian flags in abundance, the majority of fans in attendance in Paris -- including Romania's gymnastic trailblazer Nadia Comaneci -- certainly approved.

They, along with Stephens, knew of the 26-year-old's past heartbreak.

Twelve months ago at Roland Garros, the world No. 1 relinquished a set and 3-0 lead against Jelena Ostapenko in the final. That was the most painful memory.

And then this January, Caroline Wozniacki overturned a break hole at 3-4 in the final set at the Australian Open.

If that wasn't enough, in her other grand slam final in 2014 at the French Open, Halep succumbed in a three-set battle to Maria Sharapova.

That angst, though, will be largely forgotten now. If there were tears for Halep, they were tears of joy.

"Well, it's an amazing moment," she told reporters. "I was dreaming for this moment since actually I started to play tennis. It's my favorite grand slam. I always said that if I'm going to win one, I want it to be here."

READ: Nadal, Thiem battle in men's final

READ: Cecchinato stuns Djokovic

READ: Lucky loser's long journey

READ: Injured Serena pulls out

The diminutive Halep pummeled a serve on match point. She raised her arms in delight before going into the stands to embrace hugs with her entourage in a now customary scene for grand slam winners.

Halep doubt

When Stephens led by a set and 2-0, though, few probably envisaged a comeback, Halep included.

"I said, 'It's not going to happen again, but it's okay. I have just to play,'" she said. "And then when I started to win games, I said that last year it happened to me, same thing, I was set and a break up and I lost the match.

"So I said there is a chance to come back and win it. So I believed in that, and my game was more relaxed. I could make more things on court, and that's why I could win."

The reversal was all the more impressive considering Stephens had never lost any of her six finals. In her lone prior grand slam final, the 25-year-old eased past friend Madison Keys last September at the US Open.

Her disappointment didn't stop Stephens from expressing happiness for her older peer. Fellow players including twice Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova congratulated Halep, too.

"I think she's had a tough journey," said Stephens. 'I think winning here is very special for her and I'm glad she finally got her first slam. It's a beautiful thing.

"No matter how hard the adversity that you go through, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm glad she finally got her light," added Stephens, who won in New York after undergoing foot surgery.

Halep's influential coach Darren Cahill said all those difficult defeats contributed to Halep's victory Saturday.

"I think she's grown up a lot in the last 12 months," Cahill told a group of reporters. "Sometimes the losses make you mature pretty quickly. You can go one way with your career and go downwards or you can suck it up, work a little bit harder and try to do it again -- and that's the way she went."

Halep entered the final as the favorite given her clay-court prowess, higher ranking and holding a 5-2 head-to-head record against her rival.

But in the contest of two of the best movers in tennis, Halep had to work hard for her first hold, prevailing in a 25-shot rally for 1-1. It was an indication of things to come -- in the first set.

Better start for Stephens

A composed looking Stephens was indeed the first to break through, gaining a 3-1 advantage.

Stephens regularly threatened the Halep serve, though finally faced a break point at 5-3. To Halep's dismay, she sent a backhand into the net.

A rattled Halep was broken to start the second and Stephens built on the lead by digging out of a 0-30 hole. On the last point of the second game, Stephens scampered and put up a superb lob that prompted a Halep smash error.

The final threatened to be over in quick time.

"Well, we were very, very worried," Virginia Ruzici, Halep's Romanian manager who won the title 40 years ago, told a group of reporters. "Sloane was playing really well. I think Sloane also got a little bit tired at one point and she started to miss a few. And so Simona could immediately get back into the match."

Halep reeled off nine straight points to lead 3-2 on serve, then broke for 4-2. Stephens got back to 4-4 but that was the end of her resistance.

Momentum change

She was broken to end the set, making a pair of unforced errors down the line on the second and last point of the game as she attempted to alter her patterns facing a now more aggressive opponent.

And a more efficient one. Whereas Halep hit four winners and 10 unforced errors in the first set, she totaled 14 and 16 in the last two.

They weren't bad numbers at all given the surface, occasion and how well Stephens patrols the court.

Both players went off for a toilet break yet it did little to derail Halep, although she did have to get out of a 0-30 hole in the first game.

As Halep scurried to chase a defensive swat that turned into a drop shot for Stephens and won the point for 4-0, Cahill leaped out of his chair and pumped his fist. After coaching Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi, the Australian experienced more grand slam success with Halep.

The job was almost done and it became official when Halep crushed the serve on match point that drew an error.

"She is a big champion," said Ruzici. "She is huge, she has such qualities. She is the fastest player on the tour and other than that she has all the shots right now."

Halep forecast a "big party tonight" in Paris. "I'm waiting for it," she said.

Visit our tennis page for more news, videos and content

She won't have to wait any longer for a grand slam title.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 595436

Reported Deaths: 9466
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion822851311
Lake44626670
Allen32165543
Hamilton28684308
St. Joseph26917378
Elkhart24173343
Vanderburgh18856236
Tippecanoe17638125
Johnson14687289
Porter14513163
Hendricks14010242
Madison10715216
Vigo10540177
Clark10349135
Monroe9189108
Delaware8956134
LaPorte8867158
Howard7982140
Kosciusko791380
Warrick652994
Hancock646999
Bartholomew631096
Floyd6205107
Wayne5984159
Grant5874110
Dubois547175
Boone538867
Morgan524192
Henry497764
Marshall495384
Cass475362
Dearborn464545
Noble463157
Jackson417846
Shelby405680
Lawrence383876
Clinton367840
Gibson360058
DeKalb339163
Montgomery338152
Harrison333643
Knox329839
Miami312743
Steuben309343
Adams297435
Whitley297225
Wabash294947
Ripley294345
Putnam288047
Jasper285234
Huntington284959
White269138
Daviess263073
Jefferson253838
Decatur243482
Fayette242948
Greene237062
Posey234427
Wells231347
LaGrange225061
Clay219032
Scott218538
Randolph209845
Jennings193935
Sullivan189632
Spencer184319
Fountain180527
Washington179321
Starke172743
Jay163922
Fulton161130
Owen161137
Carroll153915
Orange152933
Rush151618
Perry149327
Vermillion145833
Franklin144433
Tipton129232
Parke12918
Pike114326
Blackford109222
Pulaski95337
Newton89821
Brown85931
Benton85310
Crawford7719
Martin70713
Warren6637
Switzerland6235
Union6146
Ohio4727
Unassigned0374

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 836049

Reported Deaths: 10323
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin98533705
Cuyahoga831801065
Hamilton61931441
Montgomery42028399
Summit33849736
Lucas30524605
Butler30003228
Stark25093419
Warren19083140
Lorain18418212
Mahoning16931337
Lake15592136
Clermont15335105
Delaware1403077
Licking12819132
Trumbull12515307
Fairfield1232480
Greene11729135
Medina11286165
Clark10672264
Wood10081156
Allen9639126
Portage9006107
Miami895273
Richland8910116
Marion7377113
Tuscarawas7177174
Columbiana7164124
Pickaway710350
Wayne6855165
Muskingum678241
Erie5976118
Hancock542990
Ross535287
Scioto527063
Geauga491755
Darke459489
Ashtabula443172
Lawrence439353
Union437028
Sandusky427462
Mercer427387
Seneca417357
Auglaize416259
Huron416138
Shelby413521
Jefferson409066
Belmont403740
Washington375940
Putnam367872
Athens36759
Madison343429
Knox340122
Ashland336838
Fulton328543
Defiance322578
Crawford316371
Preble313836
Brown298819
Logan296529
Ottawa283934
Clinton281243
Williams272866
Highland266018
Jackson259043
Guernsey245325
Champaign244427
Fayette229729
Morrow22574
Perry223318
Holmes220362
Henry213547
Hardin206433
Coshocton199620
Van Wert198744
Wyandot192549
Gallia192126
Adams167415
Pike167417
Hocking165523
Carroll151316
Paulding141121
Noble118740
Meigs105021
Monroe97229
Harrison8598
Morgan79728
Vinton67613
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
24° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 13°
Angola
Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 26° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 14°
Huntington
Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 20°
Feels Like: 17°
Fort Wayne
Cloudy
24° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 13°
Lima
Partly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 18°
Light Snow Overnight, Colder Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events