The first singles title of the French Open will be decided at Roland Garros in Paris on Saturday when Simona Halep meets Sloane Stephens in the women’s final of the competition. Halep goes in search of her first Grand Slam title here while Stephens is looking for a second in the last three Slams.
All the pressure will be on the world number one to see if she can finally deliver whereas Stephens is probably a little more relaxed given that she has one of these in the bag. That may only add to the intrigue to the day.
The beaten finalist of 12 months ago had been making hard work of her matches this year. She has continually dropped the first set and having to do things the hard way but in the semi-final against Garbine Muguruza she was brutal right from the start and if she can begin this match as well as she did that one then she is entitled to be tough to beat.
The elephant in the room so to speak is that this is the fourth Grand Slam final Halep has competed in and she is yet to win one and the longer that zero is next to her name the hardest to come out on top of one of these it will be. I guess with that in mind this is a big match for Halep, not least because her grass court record isn’t the best and the next Slam is on that.
The US Open champion can go halfway to the career Grand Slam if she can win this match. At the beginning of the fortnight not many would have given her much of a chance with clay not being her best surface but she has taken everything that has been thrown at her and delivered goods of her own and is deservedly in this final.
Stephens has a 100% record in Grand Slam finals and as someone who is improving all the time you get the feeling she will be tough to beat. It is daft to say the American has nothing to lose in this final but she certainly doesn’t have as much as Halep potentially does so I would imagine she will play a little freer here.
Head to Head
These two have met on seven different occasions and it is Simona Halep who holds a 5-2 advantage over the American. Halep has won the previous four meetings and has won them all in straight sets. Two of them might not give us much to go by as Stephens was returning from injury but the other two do. They have played twice on the clay with Halep winning on both occasions, again in straight sets so history is very much on the side of the Romanian.
Apart from the slight nagging doubts because Simona Halep has never won one of these things everything points towards her in this final. Even the conditions may well go in her favour too and I have to say I am on her side as well.
These two play a similar style in that they are both good defensive players who look to counter attack the opponent but the difference is Halep probably plays it better, as evidenced by the fact that she is number one in the world. Matches between these two simply are not tight. All seven previous meetings have been won in straight sets which gives me the confidence that Halep will cover a 3.5 game handicap here.
WON – Back S.Halep (-3.5 games) to beat S.Stephens for a 4/10 stake at 1.85 with William Hill