Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Sports | By Juana Wells

Halep wins French Open after thrilling fightback

Halep wins French Open after thrilling fightback

Newly-crowned French Open champion Simon Halep said she was inspired to win her first Grand Slam title by her manager Virginia Ruzici's feats 40 years ago at Roland Garros.

Halep has had to deal with plenty of criticism for being a world number one without a Grand Slam title, but she insisted that holding the top ranking wasn't a burden. "In the previous years and last time in Melbourne (in January), he told me that it's a big thing that I'm in the final and playing, just enjoy the match", Halep said.

After losing the opening set, the Romanian began to worry that she was heading for a third final defeat at Roland Garros.

Caroline Wozniacki, Sloane Stephens, Garbine Muguruza, Jelena Ostapenko, Williams and Angelique Kerber have all tasted Slam success in the last few years whilst Halep has had to settle for second best on more than one occasion.

Halep celebrated her victory in a way usually seen at Wimbledon, climbing into her box to greet friends and family. "It's a dream and it's so special to do it here in Paris", she said.

A crunching Halep backhand at 30-30 in the ninth game proved too much for Stephens as Halep crucially held and in the next game Stephens put a tired backhand wide to lose the set.

"I'm really happy that I won this Grand Slam". "We are here just to play tennis and if you're good, and you're well prepared in the practice, if you work hard, I believe you can do anything".

The early exchanges were brutal in the Paris heat, but it was the world number one who found herself being forced onto the defensive as Stephens moved 4-1 ahead.

After returning to the court, Halep tried to describe the emotions of finally winning after so many heartbreaking losses.

Halep, 5 ft 6', who can run just about anything down, but struggles when she has to close out a point, added, "He gave me confidence".

Halep ended her wait for a first major at the fourth time of asking on Saturday after she came from a set down to beat Sloane Stephens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. "I'm happy that I won this Grand Slam", she said, "being No. 1 without a Grand Slam is not 100 percent".

Suddenly Halep had won 12 of 13 points and snatched the momentum, and she made it four games on the spin as Stephens dumped consecutive forehands into the net.

Halep turned the screws in the decider to grab a break and then another to lead 4-0 - another explosion of noise greeting a sensational point in which Halep chased a drop shot down and was then equal to Stephens' attempted lob with a backhand smash.

The American had worn out irreparably, and it was her turn to fall 2-0 down at the start of the deciding set. "I was set and a break up and I lost the match".

"She's been in a winning position in this match past year and wasn't able to finish it".

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