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Halep goes 'fourth' seeking to break major duck

Halep goes 'fourth' seeking to break major duck”

When Stephens led by a set and 2-0, though, it appeared as if she would improve to an unblemished 7-0 in finals.

Halep added Grand Slam trophy No. 1 to her No. 1 ranking, coming back from a set and a break down to beat Stephens 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 and win the championship at Roland Garros in a match made up of long points and key momentum swings.

The crowd got firmly behind Halep in her win over 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals.

"Thanks guys it was fantastic and I felt your support", Halep told the crowd who were chanting her name.

Indeed, there is something of a deja-vu feel from last year's final, where she was a heavy favourite over Jelena Ostapenko, and Halep needs to defeat Stephens to bury the ghosts from what must have been an incredibly deflating defeat - not to mention her best chance to win a Slam title. "When I was down a break in the second set I thought 'Everything is gone, I'm gonna start to relax and enjoy the match, ' and I came back".

Stephens regularly threatened the Halep serve, though finally faced a break point at 5-3.

Halep has won her last four matches against Stephens and both of their meetings on clay, including in the 2014 French Open fourth round, while the two have never played a three-set encounter.

Stevens netted a service return to bow out.

She became just the fourth woman since the introduction of the WTA rankings in 1975 to win her first major after being ranked No. 1, joining Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo and Caroline Wozniacki.

Halep managed to save three break points, including one with a powerful forehand victor down the line, but the Romanian dropped her serve on Stephens' next chance when she could not properly return a clever lob from her American rival.

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"Without them probably I couldn't come back after losing three finals", she said. But it was a different story entirely as the second set went on.

"I think tomorrow is a bigger moment for Simona Halep than it is for Sloane Stephens", Evert, a Eurosport analyst, said on Friday.

Halep is the second Romanian woman to win a Grand Slam singles trophy.

At this time a year ago, Stephens wasn't even ranked in the WTA top 100. Her shots were very, very deep and very aggressive constantly.

But the story of Saturday is how Stephens let her second Grand Slam title get away. In the early stages of the match, Halep could find no holes in Stephens's game as the American glided along the baseline, absorbing pace and striking when she sensed an opportunity of her own. She had dropped the first set by a 6-3 margin, and it was clear that Stephens had a power advantage over her opponent.

"There's no one else I'd rather lose to than the number one in the world".

The American had worn out irreparably, and it was her turn to fall 2-0 down at the start of the deciding set.

The 10th seed was by far the more composed of the two players, with Halep playing the aggressor but unable to breach her defence.

There couldn't have been a more popular champion as the tennis world celebrated nearly more than Halep did.

Jana Novotna, the Czech star, also lost her first three major finals, finally winning Wimbledon in 1998.



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