Sensational Simona Halep hits back to win first Grand Slam in style

GETTYSerena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open

GETTYSerena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open

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.

Halep, who will be in her third final at Roland Garros following losses in 2014 and 2017, eliminated third-seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4 in 92 minutes on Thursday to retain her top spot in the rankings, while Stephens, ranked and seeded 10th, defeated 13th-seeded Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 in 75 minutes in an all-American semifinal.

Prior to Saturday's highly-anticipated match, Stephens came away with an impressive win on Thursday over fellow USA opponent, Madison Keys, that advanced her to the French Open Finals for the first time. I think Halep's ability to retrieve balls will keep her in the match but not lead her to a win.

"In the last game I didn't feel like I could breathe any more and I didn't want to repeat a year ago, so I did everything I could".

"Without them probably I couldn't come back after losing three finals", she said.

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Halep managed to save three break points, including one with a powerful forehand victor down the line, but the Romanian dropped her serve on Stephens' next chance when she could not properly return a clever lob from her American rival.

That determination when things aren't going her way has served Stephens well again at Roland Garros - she arrived in Paris after a poor clay-court season that had yet to yield a quarter-final.

Then the world No.1 was unstoppable to spurt to a 5-0 lead in the decider, and never appeared to be contested en route to her maiden Grand Slam title.

Upon receiving the trophy she added: "Last year was very emotional so I was living for this moment since I was 14 so thank you and I wanted this moment to happen here in France". When Stephens is keeping the ball in play and aggressive defensively, she's one of the tougher players on tour to beat.

The 26-year-old had to wait for her 32nd appearance at a Grand Slam event to win one at last.

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Simona Halep has leveled at one-set all in the French Open final against Sloane Stephens, winning the second set 6-4.

A string of defeats followed that incredible feat but she kept focused until defying the odds by going all the way to Saturday's final in Paris. But Halep was as steady as could be down the home stretch on Saturday. It's my favorite Grand Slam. It certainly isnt very easy to overcome being a set down in the final of a Grand Slam you've already lost a couple of times. "I think that it has helped me".

To manage it, Halep had to come back from a set and a service break down, just as Jelena Ostapenko, her opponent in last year's French Open final, had done against her.

Her first win in the tour since NY arrived in February in Acapulco. And she claims she will be under no pressure when she steps out at Roland Garros.

On the last point of the second game, Stephens scampered and put up a superb lob that prompted a Halep error.

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