Stephens takes swipe at 'haters' in media

Jun 10, 2018, 03:57
Stephens takes swipe at 'haters' in media

Stephens coughed up the first double fault of the match for 0-30 in the fourth game, in the middle of that momentum shift towards Halep, and from there the signs were ominous.

"Being No. 1 without a Grand Slam, I always said, is not like everything, not 100 percent", Halep said, beaming at reporters after her 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 French Open final win Saturday over Sloane Stephens of the United States - a match Halep scooped out in the second set after it looked as if her dream was circling the drain again. We've lost a lot of money picking her to win in finals only to look like a different player in the last match.

"It was wonderful and thank you for your support", she told the crowd - most of whom appeared to be backing her - on court Philippe-Chatrier.

"And then when I started to win games, I said that a year ago [against Ostapenko] it happened to me, same thing, I was set and a break up and I lost the match".

"All the experience from those three finals that I lost. was a positive thing", Halep said, "and gave me a little bit more power to believe".

She did it the hard way, though, falling a set and a break behind to Stephens, who was hunting a second major title to add to her triumph at last year's US Open.

The match was at its best in the first set but was rarely less compelling as Halep completely justified her number one ranking.

Stephens avoided the embarrassment of a bagel in the final set but Halep held her serve to win her maiden Grand Slam title. "Simona!" All the Romanians knew Halep had played two of the past four French Open finals, losing in three sets to Maria Sharapova in 2014 and in three sets to upstart Jelena Ostapenko in 2017.

Stevens netted a service return to bow out.

In the postmatch ceremony, Stephens was gracious, saying, "To Simona, congratulations on your first Slam".

Three-time Grand Slam runner-up Halep now is the only thing standing between Stephens and a second major crown.

While Stephens temporarily halted her slide, getting to 4-all, Halep used two consecutive powerful forehand winners to hold in the next game. On the last point of the second game, Stephens scampered and put up a superb lob that prompted a Halep error. Her strong form after her early-season struggles indicates that her title in Flushing Meadows was just a beginning. She reeled off nine straight points at one stage, breaking Stephens's serve for the first time in the match and at love.

"I just try to go day to day, take it moment by moment", said Stephens, who has a ideal 6-0 record in finals. Someone told me actually just run and not miss and you're going to win. Stephens indicated to Halep she should raise it proudly overhead.

Halep beat Stephens the last four times they played each other.

"You guys are my biggest haters", she said on Saturday.

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.

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