Halep breaks Grand Slam duck, wins French Open

Maria Sharapova and Garbine Muguruza

Like Halep, Stephens is an incredibly talented defensive player, and she kept stretching points against a mistake-prone Keys, who made 41 unforced errors - 30 more than Stephens.

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

There was no doubt entering Thursday's semifinals that there would be an American woman advancing to the final of the French Open. She played to win and is now the sixth player to have won the women's singles title in Paris after winning the girls' singles title, behind Francoise Durr, Mima Jausovec, Hana Mandlikova, Jennifer Capriati and Justine Henin.

The world number one had lost all three of her previous major finals, including two at Roland Garros, and said she struggled to contain her emotions after staging a thrilling comeback. This is Halep's third final appearance in the French Open.

A year ago on Court Philippe Chatrier, Halep led Jelena Ostapenko by a set and a break, only for the unseeded Latvian to mount an unlikely fightback and deal her a crushing defeat.

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

Having worked her way into a strong position in the point Halep netted a straightforward backhand and let her off the hook. But she played two bold, aggressive points, taking chances with her forehand inside the court.

"I think she's had a tough journey".

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She won the US Open in September on a ranking of 83 and just 69 days after returning to the tour following her near year-long absence.

It was the flawless way for the Romanian to banish the demons of her painful final defeat by Jelena Ostapenko 12 months ago, when she blew a lead of a set and 3-0. Stephens has won 10 of her last 13 matches on clay court.

The job was nearly done and it became official when Halep crushed a serve on match point that drew an error. After leveling the match at a set apiece, Halep looked sharper and more energetic in the first couple of games in the third set.

However she looked exhausted in the fourth and Halep took advantage as she broke back and then backed that up with a hold to love. It really has a lot to do with Halep coming up small in big tournaments.

In the latest Tennis Podcast, former player and American broadcasting great Mary Carillo joins Catherine Whitaker to describe the Stephens she got to know while working together at The Tennis Channel in the US. American Sloane Stephens, however, didn't make it easy.

Stephens briefly looked out on her feet, but raised her game by shortening the points to break straight back before levelling the set at 4-4, helped by the first ace of the match. But whatever comes next, the spirit and elegance Halep showed in her victory on Saturday will define her for years to come.

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

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