Sensational Simona Halep hits back to win first Grand Slam in style
- Author: Julie Sanders Jun 10, 2018,
Jun 10, 2018, 0:22
Kerber eventually prevailed in a tiebreak, but Halep came out all guns blazing in the second, firing baseline bullets at her opponent, who tried to cling on against the onslaught. It's the first semifinal between a pair of American women at Roland Garros since Serena Williams beat Jennifer Capriati on her way to the 2002 title.
The match flipped definitively when Halep won nine consecutive points in the second set.
For the first time in a young career filled with both success and heartbreak, Simona Halep is a Grand Slam champion.
But Stephens has had a steely determination about her since fighting back from injury and a ranking of 957 less than a year ago, and will have nothing to lose.
After she broke Stephens for the second time in the third set, it was clear: Simona Halep's moment had finally arrived.
After the first five games, they had 18 combined unforced errors and five winners. "I don't get too up, too down", said Stephens.
"It's always hard playing someone from your country and such a good friend", Stephens said, "so I was really pleased to be able to get through that and play some good tennis". She reacted well to limit her mistakes while staying aggressive on her German opponent's service games. But Stephens can not easily crack off that side, having good sensibility even when she's forced to defend from the left angle.
When Halep made a decision to use an angled crosscourt backhand, shorter and more risky, she managed to follow it with a drop shot and create the first break point chance.
After breaking Stephens to even the match at one set apiece, she jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the final set. Halep is 2-0 against Stephens on clay. If she is forced into a third, she will crumble.
Stephens is an incredibly talented defensive player, and she kept stretching points until Keys would err.
Alternatively, sometimes matches serve sideways because one player finds a science and a sense to what the other is doing - and then it's over. She is now slotted at No. 4 in the world.
Halep is the bookies' favourite to finally win a first Grand Slam and leads 5-2 in her head-to-head record against Stephens.
Halep went all out in the first set but her bold strategy backfired badly as she hit 30 unforced errors. But the advantage seemingly slipped through Halep's hands resisted to shadows and risky waves.
"I believed in that, and my game was more relaxed".
The match was all but ended as Halep clinched the double break in game four after some magnificent defending in one of the points of the match.
"Maybe the fourth time will be with luck", Halep told the crowd at the awards ceremony then, shortly before checking into a Melbourne hospital with severe dehydration after the draining three-set match. Halep then fell to 0-3 with a trophy on the line at the Australian Open in January, where she was beaten by Caroline Wozniacki.