Twelve months ago, while Simona Halep was crumbling to defeat in the French Open final, Sloane Stephens was off the tour, attending the wedding of a friend in Ireland.
I mentioned in Thursday’s preview that Halep’s status as an underdog for her semi-final was utterly absurd, given both clay data and the fact that she had been tournament favourite for virtually the entire event.
“In the last game I didn’t feel like I could breathe any more and I didn’t want to repeat previous year, so I did everything I could”. “I was dreaming for this moment since actually before I started to play tennis”.
There have now been seven consecutive different women to win a Grand Slam singles title, stretching back to Angelique Kerber when she won the U.S. Open title in 2016.
Take a look at some of the best tweets after Halep’s hard-earned victory. “I have recognised more things I have needed to do”.
“Thank you, guys – it was awesome and I felt your support”, Halep said afterwards. “I just want to enjoy this moment”.
“After not playing for 11 months, I’ve had some great results”, said the American, who has a flawless 6-0 record in finals. It was a stark contrast to what Stephens was doing an hour prior, when she won 6-3 and then held a 2-0 advantage in the second set.
US Open champion Stephens had looked set to lift a second Grand Slam trophy when leading 6-3, 2-0, but the American 10th seed wilted in hot conditions and Halep pounced.
“She didn’t miss a lot”, said Muguruza, who could have claimed the No. 1 ranking had she won the title in Paris.
The 26-year-old Halep began the muggy afternoon having been to this stage before but never able to display her best.
Simona Halep showed why she is the world No. 1 on Saturday when she came from behind to lift her maiden Grand Slam against Solaine Stephens.
Muguruza has not dropped a set so far in this year’s tournament as she seeks a second championship in Paris and third major trophy overall.
But what is a she like as a person, what makes her tick, and why doesn’t she let the media get to know her?
Amid some spellbinding rallies, Stephens clinched a solitary break to take the first set. “Both of us will be ready to give everything we have”, she said.
Halep, though, was not to be outdone in the second set and came out hitting hard, eventually forcing a break of serve in the fourth game. Stephens slowed down and Halep turned up the heat with an intensity that led to her first Grand Slam title.
Nearly exactly 12 months ago, Simona Halep was on the brink of her first major title.
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.
But just as the set was slipping away from Stephens, a series of unforced errors by Halep gifted the break back for 4-4.