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Stephens to play Halep for second Grand Slam title

Stephens to play Halep for second Grand Slam title

She won the second set 6-3 and ran away with the decider 6-2.

"I did everything I could".

"It was very nice to play like that", Halep said.

If we're lucky, Saturday's Roland-Garros final will also signal the start of a good rivalry in tennis.

If there wasn't enough insult of injury, Halep also saw her inconsistencies develop and result in losing the final at the China Open to an upcoming Caroline Garcia.

Halep drew on the memories of her unpleasant experiences in a 2014 French Open final defeat to Maria Sharapova, a showdown with Jelena Ostapenko past year and her Australian Open loss to Caroline Woznacki in January to pull herself off the ropes. It was fantastic. I felt your support.

And so it proved as she delivered in front of an expectant crowd.

The popular Romanian, who had lost three major finals before Saturday, showed signs of nerves at first but recovered to outclass her 10th-seeded opponent. A forehand attack gave Halep a set point in the next game and Stephens fired a backhand wide. As Stephens looked airtight through a first-set win and a 2-0 lead in the second, and through a whole bale of long rallies causing appreciative applause, it looked like a reinforcement of Stephens's 2017 U.S. Open win, as well as the notion of Stephens as a top-five-caliber player.

"I think I worked really hard coming back and getting in the gym, and when I was chubby trying to get skinny and when I was out of shape getting back in shape", she said after seeing off close friend Madison Keys in the semi-finals on Thursday.

After the 2016 Rio Olympics she spent almost a year sidelined with a foot injury and did not play at last year's French Open.

But her performances here are further proof she is ready to challenge regularly for more honours.




"I have matured a little bit and have recognized the opportunities when they have been presented", Stephens said.

Many experts predicted a baseline battle in the final - and that is how it turned out.

Stephens dropped her serve again in the next game after two consecutive mistakes, but Halep could not take advantage of the situation.

However, she could not replicate the same intensity in the second.

When Stephens led by a set and 2-0, though, it appeared as if she would improve to an unblemished 7-0 in finals.

"I just didn't calculate", Stephens said on NBC afterward.

"Congratulations to Simona. There is no-one else I'd rather lose to than the number one in the world".

Halep is the Roland-Garros champion. Only Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova have a higher winning percentage.

Stephens looked to have taken control of the match with another break at the start of the second set.

Despite the defeat, Stephens said she was glad Halep "finally got her light". She ended up with six double-faults and 27 total unforced errors, 12 more than Muguruza.

The Romanian knows better than anyone how Grand Slam finals can turn though after her 2017 heartbreak against Ostapenko, and she broke back to love to the delight of the crowd.

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