4th time’s the charm: Halep tops Stephens to win French Open

Sharapova and Muguruza

Barely an hour in, with Stephens up a set and 2-0 in the second, Halep felt a brief downbeat of resignation: "I said, 'It's not going to happen again, but it's OK".

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.

"It was awesome and thank you for your support", she told the crowd - most of whom appeared to be backing her - on court Philippe-Chatrier.

"The last time we played was a very long time ago, and a lot of things happened in between that.So I feel like I am a more developed player".

Stephens struck with the crucial break in the opening set in just the third game as a searing forehand clipped the outside of the line. The player who was up a set and 3-0 in the second in last year's final at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament was now the one able to dismiss a deficit.

ESPN points out that Halep, who will continue to be ranked No. 1 in the world rankings, had lost at Roland Garros in both 2014 and 2017 and in this year's Australian Open.

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Halep is easily one of the most popular, well-deserved Grand Slam champions on tour. "It's a big chance to win my dream tournament", added Halep, who took time out from preparing for the final by watching Rafael Nadal's men's semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro on Friday. She showed she had learned from her two losses, especially the loss in 2017 to Jelena Ostapenko after leading by a set and 3-0 in the second.

"I don't know if I will win, but I will take a big love from you and that's the most important for me", he said.

Simona Halep dropped her racket the way a performer drops a microphone when no further words are necessary.

Still, "I had last year and this year in my mind all match", said Halep, 26. She's always very strong on the court. Stephens won the sixth game before Halep held her serve and completed the victory in front of a delighted Parisien crowd.

Stephens managed to land a couple of late blows, but Halep confidently served it out, sealing victory on her first match point when her opponent netted a return.

"I was calm, I was focused and I didn't give up [in] any moment", Halep told NBC's Mary Carillo after the match. I had two double faults, so it was a bit tough.

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Her total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles marks the record for the most Grand Slam wins by a tennis player in the Open Era. In a statement released by the tournament, Sharapova wished Williams "a speedy recovery".

The match flipped definitively when Halep won nine consecutive points in the second set.

He had threatened to stop working with her, saying that Halep's negative body language and attitude were standing in her way.

"There's no one else I'd rather lose to than the number one in the world".

The Romanian star continued to dominate her opponent in the third set, taking a comfortable lead from the start.

In womens' play, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys were to play for a spot in the French Open final.

A string of defeats followed that awesome feat but she kept focused until defying the odds by going all the way to Saturday's final in Paris.

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Halep beat Stephens the last four times they played each other.

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