Sloane Stephens beat fellow American Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday in a repeat of the US Open final. Now she will try and win a second Grand Slam title in the last three Slams at the French Open.
In the final Stephens will meet world No. 1 Simona Halep, who is still looking for her first Grand Slam title after defeating Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4 in her semifinal.
“I’m really happy that I could beat a player like Muguruza,” said Halep, who with the win hung on to the No. 1 ranking, one match after the Spaniard easily powered Maria Sharapova off the court in their quarterfinal. “She’s a great opponent, a great player, and it’s always tough against her. I think I played very well, and even if I repeat it, I played the best match here. So every day I play better and that makes me happy.”
Halep had lost three of her last four meetings with Muguruza.
Stephens, who looked lost after the US Open, at one time losing eight tournaments in a row, has completed a remarkable turn-around during the fortnight in Paris.
“Obviously after the US Open, I was just starting my comeback, so I had only played like four tournaments, five tournaments,” Stephens told press afterwards. “I was just kind of getting back in the groove of things. And I think life came at me fast after the US Open and just kind of regrouping and getting myself together, which I did well, and I started playing better and better.”
Stephens is now 3-0 career against Keys, who nonetheless had her best result on her worst surface.
“It’s never easy playing someone from your country, let alone someone you actually care about and you’re friends with,” Stephens said. “It’s very difficult. I think more when I do play Madi. We are always very competitive. But it’s a little weird. There’s not as much, ‘Come ons’ and things like that. We have a lot of respect for each other. It’s a little different in that aspect. But I think we always compete well and play good matches.”
Halep leads Stephens 5-2 in their career head-to-head, including winning both meetings on clay.
“I know that she’s strong opponent,” Halep said. “She’s hitting the ball. I will be similar to today. I will play my game against her, as I did last year. It’s clay. It’s different. It’s different match, different year. So I expect nothing. I just want to go there and try to keep my tactic and keep my positive things every second. I will focus on myself, like I did every match here.”
So to summarize: Stephens is strong, she hits the ball, and it’s a match on clay.
While Halep focuses on herself, Stephens will focus on denying the Romanian a first Grand Slam title, and establishing herself as a threat on all surfaces.
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