Simona Halep will once again attempt to win her first grand slam on Saturday afternoon, having gone 0-3 in slam finals to date. She followed two heartbreaking Paris losses in 2014 and 2017 with another three set loss at the Australian Open this year to Caroline Wozniacki. In Sloane Stephens, she plays an opponent who sprung a shock at last year’s US Open to win her first.
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Having won just one game the last time they met, Halep got revenge in some fashion against Garbine Muguruza – winning 6-1 6-4. After storming through the first set, things got a bit tougher. After saving three break points at 4-4 in the second, she secured the decisive hold of serve before breaking to love to close out the match. “Sometimes it’s working well, sometimes not. But if you finish the match in a good way, doesn’t matter that much. Today was just I felt good on court, I felt positive, and I started to play very well since the beginning.” she said.
Sloane once again beat good friend Madison Keys in a big match although the straight sets win was much closer on this occasion – 6-4 6-4. She played a smart match while Keys aggression once again got the better of her, hitting 41 unforced errors to just 25 winners. She will go into the final as the underdog but that is unlikely to phase a player with a 6-0 career record in finals. “I have had good opportunities in finals, and I have taken advantage of them. she said. “I think once I get going in a tournament, I’m pretty consistent, which is good, I just try to keep that going through the finals and just compete to the very last match.”
Halep has had a strong claim to be the best pure clay player on the tour for a few years now and has many a title to back it up but the French Open has eluded her so far. She fought hard in defeat to Sharapova but the second defeat to Ostapenko will have hurt a lot given her lead. The mental baggage could worsen with another defeat, something a supremely confident Sloane Stephens will not be concerned about. Halep has dealt with her opponent well previously, holding a 5-2 (2-0 on clay) record against Stephens. “I will focus on myself, like I did every match here. And I will try just to be calm during the match and try everything I can. It’s a nice opportunity, a big challenge, so I have just to feel happy after the match that I gave everything.” Halep said of the match.
Prediction – Simona Halep in three sets