Romanian Simona Halep on Saturday overcame a first set loss to defeat American Sloane Stephens to win the elusive French Open crown, on the third attempt.
Halep won 3-6 6-4 6-1, in a match Stephens would also blame herself for squandering her lead in the second set and succumbing to the pressure by hard-fighting Romanian.
Said the Romanian world number one at the end of the duel: “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.”
“Thanks guys it was amazing and I felt your support,” Halep, twice a runner-up in Paris before Saturday, told the crowd who were chanting her name.
“In the last game I couldn’t breathe, I just didn’t want to repeat what happened the other years. I dreamed of this moment since I started to play tennis and I can’t believe it.”
U.S. Open champion Stephens used her powerful game to full effect to take the first set but then ran out of steam as Romania’s Halep completed a memorable victory.
The American, who will break into the top five for the first time when the new rankings are released on Monday, broke Halep in the fourth game before taking the first set after 41 minutes.
The second set was tighter as the players traded breaks until Halep finally got back on level terms when Stephens hit a backhand wide on set point.
Halep, who was beaten in the 2017 final despite holding a set and 3-0 lead against Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, kept up the momentum in the third set on Saturday to open up a 5-0 lead before earning a match point with a raging smash.
Stevens netted a service return to bow out.