Highlights, French Open 2018 Tennis, Simona Halep vs Sloane Stephens, women's final: Halep wins first Grand Slam title

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Highlights, French Open 2018 Tennis, Simona Halep vs Sloane Stephens, women's final: Halep wins first Grand Slam title
  • 21:48 (IST)

    Thank you so much for following along with our live blog today!

    And do join us tomorrow for the men's singles final -- Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem. 

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  • 21:47 (IST)

    Here's a quick recap of the women's singles final:

    Top-ranked Simona Halep won the French Open by defeating Sloane Stephens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

    This is Halep's first Grand Slam title after she lost twice in the French Open final and was runner-up at the Australian Open earlier this year.

    Halep is the second Romanian woman to win a Grand Slam singles trophy. Her manager, Virginia Ruzici, won the French Open 40 years ago.

  • 21:45 (IST)

    Before we forget, take a look at the stats from Halep's win:

     

  • 21:20 (IST)

    It's been an incredible journey for Simona Halep!

  • 21:07 (IST)

    The moment Halep had been chasing

  • 21:06 (IST)

    Simona Halep very emotional as she gives her winning speech:

    "Last year it was tough to talk because I lost this match, but now it's really emotional to talk as the winner. I wanted this trophy to be here in France.

    "I have been dreaming of this moment since I was 14 and I'm glad it happened in Paris." 

  • 21:01 (IST)

    Sloane Stephens during the presentation ceremony:

    "Thank you everyone for two incredible weeks. Not the trophy I wanted but it’s still beautiful so thank you guys.

    "Simona, the trophy looks great on you, no one else I would lose to than the No. 1 in the world so congratulations!" 

  • 20:59 (IST)

    Halep rushes to her player's box and climbs to greet her team after the win!

    She shares a long, emotional hug with Darren Cahill, then her parents and agent Virginia Ruzici. 

    Halep becomes the first Romanian woman since Virginia Ruzici in 1978 to win a Grand Slam.

  • 20:49 (IST)

    Simona Halep wins the French Open title!

    Halep defeats Sloane Stephens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in just over two hours to lift her first Grand Slam trophy. 

  • 20:42 (IST)

    Stephens digs out a very difficult hold to finally get on the board in the third set. 1-5. 

    The American was trailing 0-30 and was then forced to deuce but she finally holds after Halep nets a backhand.

    Halep will now serve for the championship. 

  • 20:39 (IST)

    Halep's coach Darren Cahill's reaction after she broke for 4-0.

  • 20:38 (IST)

    Halep quickly consolidates and surges ahead to 5-0.

    She is one game away from her maiden Grand Slam title. 

  • 20:37 (IST)

    Halep breaks for 4-0.

    Stephens attempts a fail drop-shot and then throws an exasperated look to her team. 15-15.

    Stephens comes up with an amazing backhand pass on the run to win a long rally. But she overcooks her forehand on the next point. 30-30. 

    A good second serve brings up game point for Sloane. She needs to hold here to stop the bleeding and have a shot at winning this match. 

    An insane rally which ends with two fantastic backhands goes Halep's way and it's deuce. 

    Another sensational rally on the next point is won by Halep after she gets a little luck from the net. BREAK POINT.

    And Halep converts after a crazy point at the net! Stephens puts in a great drop-shot but Halep somehow slides and tracks it down, the two play ping pong, and it's Stephens who finally nets. The World No 1 has a double-break for 4-0.

  • 20:26 (IST)

    Halep consolidates for 3-0 in the deciding set. Can she hold on to her advantage?

  • 20:25 (IST)

    Halep breaks to lead 2-0.

    The Romanian has now won 14 of the last 20 points. 

    She is mixing in some more height variety to disrupt Sloane's rhythm, with some success. 

    What's also worked really well for her is hitting a forehand down the line with top spin and height. This has often yielded a short backhand response from Stephens that Halep can attack.

  • 20:20 (IST)

    The players return to start third set. Halep rallies from 0-30 to hold in opening game.

    Halep looked like she was in trouble but then found some solid serves, a backhand down the line winner and an overhead volley to hold for 1-0. 

    This third set could come down to who is more fitter of the two. And Halep would win that battle. 

  • 20:16 (IST)

    As both players go off the court for bathroom breaks, take a look at the numbers from the second set

  • 20:14 (IST)

    2018 three-set records:

    Halep: 12-2

    Stephens: 6-3

  • 20:13 (IST)

    Death, taxes and Halep playing a third set in a Grand Slam final.

    2014 Roland Garros final: Halep lost in the third set

    2017 Roland Garros final: Halep lost in the third set

    2018 Australian Open final: Halep lost in the third set

    2018 Roland Garros final: ???

  • 20:11 (IST)

    Simona Halep wins the second set 6-4 in 42 minutes!

    We are going to a decider. This match deserves a third set.

  • 20:09 (IST)

    Halep breaks for 6-4.

    Halep puts pressure on Stephens' serve and makes her rush on her returns. 15-30. 

    But she sends a forehand long on the next point and it's 30-all.

    Halep playing with so much more confidence in the second set and is rewarded with a set point. 

    Stephens sprays a backhand wide and it's one-set all. 

  • 20:02 (IST)

    Halep holds for 5-4.

    At 30-30 on her serve, Halep gets a short reply from Stephens and rushes towards the net to put it away comfortably. 

    She keeps the aggression up on the next point, and hammers a couple of huge cross-court forehands to hold for 5-4. 

    That was a much-needed hold from Halep and now Stephens will come out to serve to stay alive in the second set.

  • 20:00 (IST)

    Stephens holds for 4-4. 

    She fires her first ace of the match to move to 30-0 and a backhand miss gives her 40-0. 

    Stephens gives Halep a bit of hope with back-to-back backhand unforced errors, but Halep misses a backhand on a 17-shot rally and Stephens escapes with the hold.

    This set feels like it's hanging in the air at the moment and the next 10 minutes will be absolutely crucial. 

  • 19:57 (IST)

    Stephens breaks back at love, so we’re back on serve, at 3-4.

    A few unforced errors at a bad time for the No. 1 seed. 

  • 19:52 (IST)

    Halep breaks again for a 4-2 lead.

    The World No 1 has won 13 of the last 15 points. From *0-2 down to *4-2 up in the second set, this has been a big turnaround.

    But it's all been possible because Stephens has had a massive lapse in concentration. 

  • 19:50 (IST)

    And the momentum has firmly swung in Halep's favour as she wins nine points in a row to take a 3-2 lead.

    The level of play has dropped from Stephens and Halep has made the most of it. She's hitting with more intent, as Stephens is the one dumping her returns into the net. 

  • 19:45 (IST)

    For the first time in the match, Stephens level drops and she throws in a bad game.

    A double fault made it 0-30 and then Halep wins the next three points to break and level this match at 2-2. 

    This match is far from over and it suddenly feels like Halep has been handed a lifeline. 

  • 19:38 (IST)

    Stephens breaks and consolidates for 2-0 to start the second set.

    Very impressive performance from the American. She was down 0-30 but she stayed cool, calm and collected from to reel off four straight points and consolidate the break. 

    Halep has tried coming to the net but hasn't been able to counter Stephens' defensive slice. 

  • 19:36 (IST)

    Sloane Stephens takes first set 6-3 in 41 minutes. 

    A very high-quality set of tennis that goes the American's way. She is one set away from winning her second Grand Slam trophy. 

  • 19:34 (IST)

    Stephens made the most of her solitary break point and that made all the difference in the opening set.

  • 19:30 (IST)

    Stephens serving for the opening set! 

    Stephens hits a poor dropshot but follows it up with a fantastic forehand winner. 15-15. 

    But Halep keeps pressing. She's not backing down, even though it feels like she's the one having to work so much harder keep this tight.

    Halep earns her first break point of the set at 30-40 with a perfect drop-shot, but Stephens saves it with a fantastic backhand to pull Halep wide off the court and the Romanian dumps her return into the net. 

    A 14-shot rally that ends with a backhand error from Halep helps Stephens seal the first set 6-3.

  • 19:22 (IST)

    Stephens holds comfortably and then Halep comes up with a strong service game as well.

    Beautiful footwork from Halep to run around the backhand and play an inside-out forehand for a clean winner on game point. She holds to stay alive in the set, 3-5.

  • 19:15 (IST)

    Coach Roger Rasheed on the women's final

  • 19:13 (IST)

    Halep does well to stay close in the opening set as she holds for 2-4.

    The World No 1 withstood a barrage of forehand from Stephens. A few errors from the American's racquet this time let Halep off the hook. 

    It's Sloane who has been in control of most of the points so far -- dictating from both wings with her groundstokes. 

    Halep needs to come forward to the net to change things up a bit. She is not winning this match from the baseline. 

  • 19:08 (IST)

    Stephens showing absolutely no signs of nerves!

  • 19:07 (IST)

    Stephens consolidates to hold for 4-1.

    Wow. This match has seen some insane rallies already. Stephens is patiently making Halep run from corner to corner, and waiting for the World No 1 to commit errors. And the strategy is working really well. 

    Halep is already frustrated and trails by a break.

  • 19:04 (IST)

    Stephens gets the first break of the match and leads 3-1. 

    The American sets up her first break point with a great flat forehand return down the middle that Halep can't control. Stephens pulls Halep to the backhand corner to expose her forehand side and Halep nets. 

  • 18:52 (IST)

    Two games in and we already have a glimpse of what this match is going to be like -- lots of running, long rallies and some powerful hititng.

    Stephens putting pressure on Halep in her first service game after holding her's comfortably. Halep was stretched to deuce but a 25-shot rally ends in Halep's favour and she holds her serve. 1-1. 

     

  • 18:48 (IST)

    Plenty of support for Halep on Court Philippe Chatrier!

    After every long point, chants of "SI-MO-NA! SI-MO-NA! SI-MO-NA" ring out in the stadium.

  • 18:47 (IST)

    The Coupe Suzanne Lenglen

  • 18:44 (IST)

    Ready? Play!

    Sloane Stephens to serve first to start off the match.

    And Halep makes three tight errors. Stephens overhits a forehand but then holds on the next point with a forehand winner down the line. 1-0 to the American. 

  • 18:42 (IST)

    The players are out on court and are warming up! 

  • 18:41 (IST)

    Simona Halep is 0-3 in Grand Slam finals. Sloane Stephens is 6-0 in all professional finals. 

    One streak ends today. 

  • 18:30 (IST)

    Who do you think will win?

  • 18:25 (IST)

    Rene Denfeld previews the finals live from Roland Garros

    Rene Denfeld, who has been covering the French Open for Firstpost from Paris, looks back at the men's and women's semi-finals as well as previews the finals

  • 18:22 (IST)

    Simona Halep leads the head-to-head 5-2 over Sloane Stephens.

    Halep has won the last two matches that they played and the two only two on clay as well. 

  • 17:33 (IST)

    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the French Open!

    It's the penultimate day of the claycourt Grand Slam featuring the women's singles final between top seed Simona Halep and 10th seed Sloane Stephens. 

    The match is set to begin in just over an hour. Stay tuned as we bring you live scores and regular updates from Roland Garros!

When the French Open final was played a year ago, Sloane Stephens was nowhere near Roland Garros. She was in Chicago with coach Kamau Murray, working her way back from a foot injury that required surgery and sidelined her for 11 months.

"Indoors on a hard court. Getting ready for grass. Barely walking. Playing tennis next to a bunch of five and six-year-old screaming kids," Murray recalled. "So to be here from there, I think, is rewarding, because those times were not easy."

The times are good now. Stephens closed in on her second Grand Slam title by beating pal Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday in the first all-American semi-final at the French Open since 2002. It also was a rematch of the US Open final won by Stephens last September.

Romania's Simona Halep celebrates after victory over Spain's Garbine Muguruza during their women's singles semi-final match on day twelve of The Roland Garros 2018 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 7, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Thomas SAMSON

Simona Halep has won her first Grand Slam title at the 2018 French Open. AFP

"It's always hard playing someone from your country and such a good friend," Stephens said, "so I was really pleased to be able to get through that and play some good tennis."

The 10th-seeded Stephens' opponent in Saturday's final will be Simona Halep, who emphatically ended the impressive French Open run of 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza by defeating her 6-1, 6-4.

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

She twice has lost in the final at Roland Garros — to Maria Sharapova in 2014 and to Jelena Ostapenko in 2017 — and was the runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open in January.

Stephens enters Saturday's French Open final against No 1 Halep with a 6-0 record in tournament title matches.

"I'm pretty calm on the court all the time, I'd say. I don't get too up, too down," Stephens said. "I think that it has helped me."

Halep, meanwhile, is 0-3 with a Grand Slam trophy at stake.

"Hopefully," Halep said, "tomorrow, I will be better than previous ones."

Here's something the women who meet for the championship at Roland Garros do have in common: They rarely seem to let a point end quickly.

Halep, a 26-year-old Romanian, and the 10th-seeded Stephens, a 25-year-old American, are among the best there is right now at using instinct and speed to track down tough-to-reach shots and force opponents to hit another.

And that's not to say they're merely content to push balls back. Both have learned to pick the right spots to be aggressive and are quite capable of switching from retriever to attacker in a blink.

Their contrasting personalities and similar styles of play promise an intriguing final at Roland Garros on Saturday.

With inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Jun 09, 2018 21:48 PM

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