Halep romps, Stephens rolls into final

GETTYSerena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open

GETTYSerena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open

Halep added Grand Slam trophy No. 1 to her No. 1 ranking, coming back from a set and a break down to beat Stephens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 and win the championship at Roland Garros in a match made up of long points and key momentum swings.

Halep has been in fine form so far at Roland Garros and eased past former victor Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4 in the last four - a victory which also ensured she will remain the world number one at the end of the tournament.

But when Stephens netted a forehand return on Halep's first match point, the Romanian could finally replace the bitter memories of her first three Grand Slam finals with one she will cherish for the rest of her life.

"It's great that 40 years after Virginia, I won", Halep said.

"In the last game I didn't feel like I could breathe any more and I didn't want to repeat previous year, so I did everything I could". She reeled off nine straight points at one stage, breaking Stephens's serve for the first time in the match and at love.

From the beginning of the match, the 10th-ranked Stephens was clearly superior on her serve, and offered resistance on Halep's.

The crowd got firmly behind Halep in her win over 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals.

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.

Simona Halep has lifted the French Open trophy and says she "just tried not to repeat the same as a year ago". I was dreaming for this moment since actually I started to play tennis.

History repeated itself at Roland Garros but this time the world's number one player came out on the right side.

There was no doubt entering Thursday's semifinals that there would be an American woman advancing to the final of the French Open. We've lost a lot of money picking her to win in finals only to look like a different player in the last match.

Halep celebrated her victory in a way usually seen at Wimbledon, climbing into her box to greet friends and family.

6-4, 6-3: The final score of Halep's win over Stephens in their only other match at Roland Garros, in 2014.

"And then when I started to win games, I said that a year ago [against Ostapenko] it happened to me, same thing, I was set and a break up and I lost the match".

Halep, who assured herself of retaining the No. 1 ranking with the victory, earned a fourth chance to win her first major title.

Former player and commentator Rennae Stubbs was overjoyed seeing the 26-year-old do what Caroline Wozniacki finally did in Melbourne, where she edged out Halep for the crown.

"And I think now I've kind of matured a little bit and have recognised the opportunities when they have been presented".

Halep is 2-0 against Stephens on clay.

Halep survived a pressurised service game and then turned the screw, eking out a break point from which Stephens planted wide to force a deciding set.

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