French Open 2018: Simona Halep aims for maiden Grand Slam title

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French Open women’s final
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: Saturday, 9 June Time: 14:00 BST
Coverage: Live radio and text commentaries on BBC Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website and app.

World number one Simona Halep says she will “stay chilled” in Saturday’s French Open final as she attempts to vanquish memories of defeat in her previous three Grand Slam finals.

The Romanian, who was runner-up in Paris in 2014 and 2017 and at the Australian Open in January, will play American Sloane Stephens.

“I’ve lost three times up until now. No-one died,” the 26-year-old said.

“It’s a big chance but you never know, so I will stay chilled.”

Halep led unseeded world number 47 Jelena Ostapenko by a set and 3-0 in last year’s Roland Garros final, but could not contain the 20-year-old’s attacking game, eventually losing 4-6 6-4 6-3.

Simona Halep and Jelena Ostapenko after last year’s French Open final

She admitted afterwards that she felt sick with nerves, adding “maybe I wasn’t ready to win it, but maybe next time”.

“I will be I think more confident because I have a lot of experience,” she said after booking her place in this year’s final with a 6-1 6-4 win over world number three Garbine Muguruza.

She is certainly more used to playing on clay.

Tale of the tape
Simona Halep Sloane Stephens
26 Age 25
5ft 6in Height 5ft 7in
1 World ranking 10
16 Career titles 6
28-6 2018 win-loss record 15-8
0 Grand Slam titles 1

In addition to her two runs to the final in Paris, she won the junior title in 2008 and has won seven clay-court titles on the women’s tour.

Stephens by contrast has only one title on the surface and has advanced beyond the fourth round for the first time.

The 25-year-old, however, does have experience of winning a Grand Slam.

US Open champion Stephens has won two of her previous seven meetings with Halep

She beat her compatriot Madison Keys to claim the US Open title in 2017 and has raised her game on the big stage once again.

She looked composed in beating Keys in straight sets in the semi-final in Paris and has a straightforward mindset for Saturday’s showdown with Halep.

“It’s just mainly about competing. No-one is going to hand you the match,” she said.

“It’s a Grand Slam final. You have to go out there and get after it and make sure you play every point and try to execute your game plan as best as possible.”


BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

Just like last year, Simona Halep goes into the French Open final as the favourite to win her first Grand Slam title.

She played magnificently and powerfully to see off the challenge of Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals, and is a natural on clay.

But favouritism, and her status as the world number one, invites its own pressure – especially as she has come off second best in her first three Grand Slam finals.

She does, however, seem more relaxed about the challenge, having reconciled herself to the fact there are worse things in life than never winning a Grand Slam.

Sloane Stephens may be the underdog, but she is more than capable of denying Halep once more.

She has a very consistent record at Roland Garros and moves exceptionally well on all surfaces. And the American has proved she is the woman for the big occasion.

Stephens has been in six finals, including at last year’s US Open, and won them all.

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