Paris, June 9 (IANS) Top-ranked Romanian Simona Halep beat Sloane Stephens in full sets to claim her first Grand Slam title at the French Open here on Saturday.
Halep extended her winning streak over her American opponent to five matches after triumphing at 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, reports Xinhua news agency.
Halep recorded 0-3 in her previous Grand Slam final appearances, including twice at Roland Garros, losing to Maria Sharapova in 2014 and Jelena Ostapenko in 2017.
Coming into the final, she was determined. She led by 5-2 in previous head-to-heads against Stephens, including the pair’s past four meetings.
Both players held their serves in the first three games, before Stephens finished her break in the fourth to move in front and built a 4-1 lead midway through the first set.
Halep failed to have her own response for breaking, and had to concede the opening set at 6-3.
The top-ranked player slid away further after being broken at the start of the second set to see herself 0-2 down.
Stephens began to lose her quality in returning, and Halep took advantage of that to win four games in a row.
Stephens tied the score at 4-all after the eighth game, but Halep managed to force into the decider with 6-4.
Then the world No.1 was unstoppable to spurt to a 5-0 lead in the decider, and never appeared to be contested en route to her maiden Grand Slam title.
“It’s very emotional as a winner. I was dreaming of this moment since I was starting to play tennis. I’m really happy it’s happened in Roland-Garros in Paris – my special city,” Halep said.
Already the 2008 Roland Garros girls’ singles champion, Halep became the sixth player to have won the women’s singles title in Paris after winning the girls’ singles title. She has retained her world No.1 ranking by reaching the final.
Halep also became the second Romanian woman to win a Grand Slam title following Virginia Ruzici’s triumph at Roland Garros in 1978.
Stephens, the reigning U.S. Open champion, was set to move up to fourth at latest WTA rankings after reaching the final, the first time for her to break into Top 5.