Stephens stands in Halep's path

Low points Maria Sharapova returns the ball to Garbine Muguruza

Low points Maria Sharapova returns the ball to Garbine Muguruza

Halep's previous French Open final losses came against powerful ball-strikers in Sharapova and Ostapenko, but Stephens's game is more defensive and the Romanian leads 5-2 in their head-to-head record.

However she looked exhausted in the fourth and Halep took advantage as she broke back and then backed that up with a hold to love.

On Saturday, Halep finally broke through, becoming the first Romanian woman to win the French Open in 40 years. Either way, though, we look set for a thriller in Paris. "I missed a lot at the beginning of the match". But she failed to convert any of those, and Halep held there, before breaking at love to end it. Stephens has one grand slam title under her belt, which came in the 2017 US Open. Stephens has made the second week in Paris in five of her seven appearances and Keys is slowly coming to terms with the surface. Stephens is simply forcing her opponents to make tough shots, often beating themselves eventually. Credit Halep for changing her tactics a bit.

This should be a great final as both players are playing well heading into the final.

Garbine Muguruza's big strokes overwhelmed Maria Sharapova right from the start.

Simona Halep finally shook off the shackles of her own expectations to clinch a Grand Slam title at the fourth time of asking in a final. I like her chances to win her second Major on Saturday.




A foot injury - and then surgery - had put her career on ice for 10 months and her ranking had nosedived to 323 in the world. She has now rid herself of the status of being the best women's player never to have won a Major. The favorite deserves the pick here.

To Halep's dismay, she sent a backhand into the net. She was the clear favourite past year as well to beat Ostapenko and (somehow) managed to find a way to lose.

Stephens has played six tour-level finals, and won the lot, including at the US Open in September.

Halep said afterewards: 'In the last game I felt that I could not grip [the racket] any more, so I just tried not to repeat the a year ago.

Her defensive skills are second to none, and without the added burden of needing to break her duck, Halep will be free to produce her best upon reaching any more finals. It's just how it's happened for me", Stephens said, "I think once I get going in a tournament, I'm pretty consistent, which is good.

Meanwhile, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) on Thursday announced that it has named Brazilian tennis legend and three-time French Open victor Gustavo Kuerten as a Roland Garros ambassador. If her mental fortitude has improved, she will prevail. She double-faulted three times in the opening game, part of her 27 unforced errors. I will say this, though. I'm backing Halep to win in three sets.

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