Thursday 22 August 2019

Halep hoping to get over final hurdle

 

Simona Halep faces Sloane Stephens in her third crack at the French Open title. Photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters
Simona Halep faces Sloane Stephens in her third crack at the French Open title. Photo: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Simona Halep has lost two finals on Court Philippe Chatrier. Today, as she faces Sloane Stephens in her third crack at the French Open title, we will find out how much scar tissue she is carrying.

Admittedly, Roland Garros is not the only place where Halep has had to make do with a consolation prize. She was also runner-up at January's Australian Open, and in four other finals over the past year. Her position as world No 1 owes more to consistency than ruthlessness.

But if Halep does step over the threshold that separates the Grand Slam champions from the rest, one suspects that she will do it here.

Roland Garros is her spiritual home, the place where she won the juniors in 2008 and reached her first Major final against Maria Sharapova in 2014.

Rather like Andy Murray in 2012, Halep keeps emphasising that if a Grand Slam title does not come her way, life will go on.

Today, we will see if it works for Halep against Stephens, a magnificent athlete whose record could hardly be more different. Stephens has played six finals in her young career and won the lot, including at last year's US Open.

One person certainly not worrying about French Open final nerves is Rafael Nadal who powered his way into the French Open final with a straight-sets win over Juan Martin del Potro.

Now only Dominic Thiem stands in the way of Nadal and what seems an inevitable 11th Roland Garros title. The world number one edged a tight first set but then simply blew fifth seed Del Potro away.

Del Potro wilted in the second, raising his arms in mock celebration when he won a solitary game while already 5-0 behind.

Relentless Nadal broke to love at the start of the third, and as he moved on to match point an exhausted Del Potro bent, as if he had been punched in the stomach.

He probably felt as though he had been, as Nadal completed a devastating 6-4 6-1 6-2 victory. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

  • Simona Halep v Sloane Stephens, Live, Eurosport, 2.0

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