Simona Halep Breaks Through, Beating Sloane Stephens for the French Open Title

GETTYGarbine Muguruza was shocked at Serena Williams French Open withdrawal

The American was defeated 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 by world number one Simona Halep in Saturday's championship match at Roland Garros in what was her first defeat in a final after previously boasting a ideal 6-0 record.

"Yeah, just another good opportunity", she said.

A hold and a break later and Halep was ahead for the first time in the match, with Stephens' error count rising and rising.

Halep became just the second Romanian woman to win a grand slam.

Stephens already had what Halep craved so badly, having won the 2017 US Open championship.

Muguruza, who won the title in 2016, will play top seed Simona Halep for a place in Saturday's final.

"She didn't miss a lot", said Muguruza, who could have claimed the No. 1 ranking had she won the title in Paris.

Sloane Stephens of the US clenches her fist after defeating compatriot Madison Keys during in semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, Thursday, June 7, 2018 in Paris. Oh, and she gets to stay as world No.1, whatever happens. She capped off the fourth game with a wonderful victor at the net.

"Stephens is red hot right now", says Floyd.

Stephens applied a more patient strategy, Halep uncharacteristically insisted in applying a constant pressure towards her opponent's backhand. It won't be easy against a mentally strong and physically fit Stephens.

At this year's Australian Open, she scrapped her way through the draw.

Stephens managed to land a couple of late blows, but Halep confidently served it out, sealing victory on her first match point when her opponent netted a return. When Stephens is keeping the ball in play and aggressive defensively, she's one of the tougher players on tour to beat.

But after falling behind an early break in the second set, Halep's tenacity and vigor, two of her great strengths as a player, turned the match around. Although Halep leads the head-to-head match-up, this is the final of a major.

Halep in stride had Stephens grasping. "Both of us will be ready to give everything we have", she said. If she is forced into a third, she will crumble.

Halep survived a pressurised service game and then turned the screw, eking out a break point from which Stephens planted wide to force a deciding set. Halep saved two match points to win that one. The world No.1 began to find depth and range on her forehand, her large backswing becoming a proactive weapon again. She fought back from a set down, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

However, Halep then broke Stephens' serve a third time to clinch the second set 6-4.

Halep, however, surrendered the advantage and it went to 4-4.

The momentum - and crowd, who often chanted "Simona, Simona" - was with her. On the last point of the second game, Stephens scampered and put up a superb lob that prompted a Halep error.

Stephens was imperious and impenetrable in the first set. "I just have to start to relax and enjoy the match"'.

Muguruza raced to a 4-0 lead and never looked back.

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