World’s No. 1 Simona Halep inched one step closer to winning her first major on Thursday by defeating Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4 at the French Open.
It will be the 4th Grand Slam final that she has appeared in, with losses coming in the French Open finals in 2014, 2017 and this year’s Australian Open.
Is this the tournament where the Romanian can finally win a Grand Slam title? The Romanian will surely be asking herself this plenty of times up until Saturday.
Halep has no doubt faced heartbreak in all three of her previous attempts at winning a major with losing in three close sets in each match. Perhaps the loss that hurts the most was last year’s French Open Final where she was up a set and 3-0 to Jelena Ostapenko before allowing her opponent to rally for the victory.
Thursday’s win was an impressive showing in beating former French Open champion, Muguruza, but Halep showed the most tenacity in the quarter-finals where she defeated former No. 1 Angelique Kerber.
In that match she got down 4-0 in the first set but fought back to tie it up at 6-6, only to then lose in the tiebreaker. Many players may have let that affect the rest of their match negatively, but not Halep. She turned it into motivation to step up her game and outplay Kerber the rest of the way for the impressive win.
It is that tenacity, confidence and calmness that may give her what she needs to walk away with the trophy from Paris.
She will face a very tough opponent, though, in Sloane Stephens. Since winning the US Open last year, the American is soaring with confidence. In the semis, she took out fellow American Madison Keys in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 and is looking to win her second Grand Slam title on Saturday.
A positive that Halep can draw upon is that she is 5-2 head to head with Stephens and has won four straight against her. A stat she will try to forget is that she has been victorious in only one of her last seven finals.
Nonetheless, Simona is taking a reflective outlook on the final.
“And I have two more days until I will play the final,” Halep said after the match. “So I will stay chill. I will relax and then we will see what is going to happen Saturday. But for sure, I will fight for every ball.”
That she will, as it will be a match-up of two of the games best defenders. Both are known for chasing down every ball relentlessly.
Everyone will be rooting for great play from both players but after last years devastating finals loss, it would be no surprise to see Halep as the sentimental favorite to finally win her first Grand Slam title. And that is something that most certainly can happen.
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