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French Open final preview: Simona Halep to battle Sloane Stephens for title

This match is live on Phillipe-Chatrier at Roland Garros on Saturday from 2pm Nigerian Time

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Whatever happens on Saturday, Simona Halep will remain world number one. The Romanian, however, isn’t truly interested in the WTA top spot at the moment.

She needs to win a Grand Slam!

It will her fourth career Grand Slam final, the third at Roland Garros. The grace with which she’s always ticked through the main draws of those Grand Slam events has somehow eluded her in the finals – the very crucial moment.

She has lost each in three tight sets – to Maria Sharapova in the 2014 French Open final, to a 20-year-old unseeded Jelena Ostapenko in last year’s French Open final and to Caroline Wozniacki in this year’s Australian Open final.

Halep, though, is hoping it turns out well for her this time around.

“So, I lost three times until now and no one died, so it will be OK,” said Halep when asked about her previous major finals. “But I will be, I think, more confident, because I have a lot of experience.”

Simona Halep hopes to clinch a Grand Slam crown.

“I don’t know what I will change. Probably nothing, because I will keep my routine. In tennis, you never know, so I will stay chill.”

Against Sloane Stephens, however, it’ll be very difficult. The American’s story is different. Stephens has won all six finals she’s played in her professional career. Notably, last year’s US Open final, where she beat Madison Keys.

“I have had good opportunities in finals, and I have taken advantage of them,” the American said. “I have played well, played solid.

“And, I mean, there is no formula. I didn’t, like, try to do it. I’m not trying to break a record. It’s just how it’s happened for me.

Sloane Stephens – solid, decisive!

The 25-year-old plays as though she’s bothered about nothing. No other player, arguably, has posted a better result and/or performance all round than the American in Paris this fortnight.

Her insouciance toward matches is what makes her a dangerous opponent, perhaps.

Save a three-set battle with Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the third round, Stephens has worked her way to the final without breaking a sweat.

“I think once I get going in a tournament, I’m pretty consistent, which is good. I just try to keep that going through the finals and just compete to the very last match.”

Halep leads the head-to-head against Stephens 5-2. She has won her last four meetings with the American, including their two encounters on clay.

However, Stephens is a different player now and is playing at a higher level since the pair’s last encounter, in the semifinals in Cincinnati last year.

And before you give the Halep the edge here, know that Stephens doesn’t really care, seemingly.

“Somebody’s going to win,” Stephens said. “Someone has to win. Someone has to lose. Just go out, give it your all, and whoever wins, wins.”

Dangerously nerveless! Little wonder she’s won all the finals she’s played in.

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