Simona Halep makes her second successive final

Clyde Nash
June 10, 2018

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. Halep has been lights out with her return this tournament and has produced a combined 14 breaks in her last two matches.

"First of all, thank you guys". 'It was awesome and I felt your support.

It is the 11th time the 32-year-old Spaniard has reached the French Open last four, becoming only the third man in history to achieve the feat at a single Grand Slam, alongside Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors. "I think she gave very little free points. I will play for the fans from all over the world because I know that many are hoping me to win this Grand Slam finally", she said.

The world number one was in impressive form as she put the Spaniard to the sword with a 6-1 6-4 victory.

However, she must have had a sense of deja vu as her compatriot and good friend Stephens made light work of her on Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a final Saturday against Simona Halep.

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After heartbreak in three previous major finals, Halep summoned up her best tennis and all the mental strength she has developed over the past year to finally overcome her biggest hurdle. "And this time, up 3-0 in the final set with a point for a double-break lead, she wins the point of the tournament to effectively seal the match", according to a comment posted on WTA's website.

This much is certain: Simona Halep is a Grand Slam champion, now and forever.

Halep drew on the memories of her unpleasant experiences in a 2014 French Open final defeat to Maria Sharapova, a showdown with Jelena Ostapenko a year ago and her Australian Open loss to Caroline Woznacki in January to pull herself off the ropes. In one particularly dominant stretch, Halep won nine straight points.

Stephens was two points from defeat in the third round against Camila Giorgi of Italy, before coming back to win 8-6 in the third set.

"In the last game I felt like I could not breathe anymore", said Halep. The matchup was the first All-American semifinal match at Roland Garros since 2002.

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Eventually, Halep had dropped that racket, climbed the stands to hug and cry with her coach, Darren Cahill, and had said to the crowd that she told herself at 3-6, 0-2, "Okay, everything is gone". She is chasing her first Grand Slam title.

Halep listened. Now she will proudly display that bit of hardware at home.

"To me, it is really going to depend on who's the most fearless and who's going to come out the box and play more aggressive tennis". That was not the case in the first though as Stephens, the first American not called Williams to reach the French Open final since Jennifer Capriati triumphed in 2001, played flawlessly.

She was rewarded with a break in the second and fourth games to take a 4-0 lead looking totally in charge of proceedings. But in the end, she couldn't quite overcome Halep's excellence.

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