Simona Halep shrugs off Sloane Stephens challenge to win French Open title

French Open- Wednesday Schedule Muguruza Sharapova and Nadal-Schwartzman

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.

When asked about her previous Grand Slam final defeats, Halep told The New York Times: "I lost three times until now, and no one died, so it will be OK".

Halep would have been ecstatic no matter the manner of victory today, but she has to be doubly pleased with the way she seized her first Slam title. The reference to her book seemed rather irrelevant given the one-sided nature of yesterday's match - Sharapova won only three games.

Having come close in Australia and been unfortunate to lose to Caroline Wozniacki she was a popular victor, having avoided what would have been a crushing defeat.

Much has been paid of Stephens' stunning record in finals and she puts that down to keeping calm under pressure.

Maria Sharapova's first French Open in three years came to a muted conclusion Wednesday.

"I'll come here tomorrow, have a hit, have lunch here, go to my room, watch TV, wait till dinner, have dinner, go to sleep".

She played her way back into the top 50 earlier this year and earned a seed (28) here in a major for the first time since her forced hiatus. She also was coming off a lopsided victory in the quarterfinals a day earlier, overwhelming Sharapova 6-2, 6-1. "But, yeah, I think she made everyone wait a little bit". "One of the things I always say, I feel like women, especially, should bring each other up".

But from 0-2 down in the second set, Halep was able to change the flow of the match.

But Halep wasted the chance with her 10th unforced error and Stephens made her pay, drilling an unreturnable backhand into the corner to wrap up the set after just 41 minutes. "So it's just, like, I think it would be more shocking if I wasn't in tears". Although Halep leads the head to head matchup, this is the final of a Major.

Halep was my pick to win the French Open before the tournament, even though I picked against her in the Muguruza match. By the end of the first set, Sharapova had won just eight points against the Muguruza serve and failed to carve out a single break point. This is Halep's third final appearance in the French Open.

She improved to 3-0 against her longtime pal and Fed Cup teammate Keys, including their US Open final last September.

I spoke to Stephens yesterday, and she told me that her recent run of success since her return from surgery-winning the U.S. Open, winning the Miami Masters, reaching the final here in Paris-has prompted her to re-assess her career and goals. Some of those matches were very defining for me.

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