Simona Halep Wins The 2018 French Open Title
Simona Halep, the world number 1; has won her first grand slam title. She is now the Roland Garros champion, and that must feel good.
Simona Halep won the match 3-6, 6-4 6-1 against Sloane Stephens.
Here’s what happened.
From the first game up until the middle of the second set, Sloane Stephens was the more balanced player of the two. She won her serve easy enough, and put a lot of pressure on Haleps’ serve in the second game. It was clear to see what Simona Halep was trying to do. She wanted to make Stephens hit as many backhands as possible, and avoid the weapon that is her forehand. She managed to hold off a break, and even the match at 1-1.
Stephens held her serve, but the same couldn’t be said for Halep. Stephens took the break at the first chance, and led the first set 3-1. Sloane Stephens was unstoppable, and it was hard for Simona Halep to react, and to even win a point.
At just over half an hour of play, Sloane Stephens was serving to take the opening set at 5-3. Halep had to play some incredible tennis to get herself back into the first set, with a chance to break serve. A backhand unforced error levelled the score to deuce. This followed a great body serve from Stephens, and another hard-hitting rally. Sloane Stephens took the first set 6-3.
The first game of the second set showed just how impressive Sloane Stephens is from both an attacking, and defensive perspective. Halep’s serve was broken in the first game, and despite going 30-0 up on Stephens’ serve, she couldn’t break back. She lost four points in a row, leading to a hold of serve for Stephens. She led the second set 2-0.
Halep played a good service game, and held her serve, but was still a break down early on in the second set. As Sam Smith pointed out, just last year, Simona Halep was in this exact same position against Jelena Ostapenko that Sloane Stephens is with a set, and a break up.
Stephens was serving at 2-1, and after some impressive play from Simona Halep, she found herself 40-0 up, ready to break back. On her first chance, Stephens hit her forehand wide, and the second set evened out at 2-2.
Halep played some great attacking shots, and forced errors from Stephens and secured her service game to go 3-2 up in the second set. Stephens then held serve with the match levelling at 3 games a piece in the second set.
Both continued to hold their serve, but at 5-4, 40-30 Simona Halep had a set point on Stephens serve, which she took with ease. Halep took the second set 6-4, and into a decider they went.
Halep started the third set with a strong hold of serve but the same couldn’t be said for Stephens. Halep broke her serve, and went 2-0 up which quickly became 3-0 with a strong hold of serve. Halep did everything she could to break Sloane Stephens once again, and with the first break point of the game, and probably the best rally of the game, she took the break, and went 4-0 up in the third and final set. Her 4-0 lead soon turned to 5-0, and you could tell that Sloane Stephens had lost her rhythm, and fight.
Refusing to let another service go by, Sloane Stephens managed to get a game on the board in the third set, and forced Simona Halep to serve for the title at 5-1 up in the third set.
She did just that. Simona Halep is the 2018 Roland Garros champion.
Something I noticed throughout the match was how deep Sloane Stephens hits the ball. It is quite impressive to see how many of her shots sit between the service line, and baseline. A much higher percentage than most other women on the tour... that’s for sure. She will bounce back, and keep an eye on her for the grass court season!
Congratulations Simona Halep on being world number 1, and winning your first grand slam title! I’m looking forward to see her at Wimbledon, as I’m sure you are too.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s preview of the men's final.