World No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania on Saturday won the French Open, her first Grand Slam title. After being defeated in three previous Grand Slam finals Halep finally triumphed against US Open champion Sloane Stephens, winning 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 after a nearly two-hour battle on Court Philippe-Chatrier. This is Simona’s third participation in the French Open. She lost the final twice, against Russian Maria Sharapova in 2014 and against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in 2017.Simona Halep is the first Romanian woman in 40 years to win Roland Garros, after Virginia Ruzici in 1978, and marks 10 years since she won the Junior title in Roland Garros in 2008.
It took Halep two hours and three minutes to claim the victory against world No. 10 Stephens (age 25). This was Halep’s fourth Grand Slam final and third time at Roland Garros, after 2014 and 2017; earlier this year she lost to Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki in the Australian Open.
Simona Halep had a rather sluggish start and gifted Stephens in the first set an early advantage, while the American staged an excellent counterattack, but as the match went on Halep progressively regained her grip, winning four straight games and leading 4-2 in the second set. Stephens leveled at 4 – 4 but Halep managed a decisive break and sealed the set 6-4.
In the decider Halep sure-handedly cruised through the game, finishing the job with smashing serve and ending the set with a splendid 6-1.
This is Simona Halep’s 31st final, having won so far 17 titles as follows: six in 2013 in Nurnberg, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Budapest, New Haven, Moscow and Sofia; two in 2014 in Doha and Bucharest; three in 2015 in Shenzhen, Dubai and Indian Wells; three in 2016 in Madrid, Bucharest and Montreal; one in Madrid in 2017; and two this year in Shenzhen and Roland Garros.
The victory brings Halep 2,000 WTA points and 2.2 million euro in prize money, while Stephens got 1,300 WTA points and 1.12 million euro.
Simona Halep’s victory in Roland Garros echoes Ilie Nastase’s triumph here 45 years ago and the win of her current manager Virginia Ruzici 40 years ago.
Simona Halep’s journey to the final stage of the French Open included American Alison Riske in the first round, whom she defeated 2-6, 6-1, 6-1; American Taylor Townsend (6-3, 6-1, in the second round); Germany’s Andrea Petkovic (7-5, 6-0 in the third round); Belgian Elise Mertens (6-2, 6-1 in the round of 16); Germany’s Angelique Kerber (6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals); and Seed No. 3 Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinal.
Photo : AP