Stephens takes swipe at 'haters' in media

GETTYSerena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open

GETTYSerena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open

Halep's victory was one of the most popular for many years at Roland Garros and at times during the match, the support for the 26-year-old was deafening.

But Halep dug deep, squaring the final by winning the next two games, as Stephens fired a backhand wide on the first set point.

The third set was a completely different story for Halep, who quickly built up a double break lead to get ahead 5-0. "In the last game I didn't feel like I could breathe any more and didn't want to repeat past year, so I cannot believe it".

When Sloane Stephens's last service-return bid had struck the net, Halep finally had freed herself of whatever goblins had come and lurked from three prior Grand Slam finals that went both long and melancholy.

Her defensive skills are second to none, and without the added burden of needing to break her duck, Halep will be free to produce her best upon reaching any more finals.

"[Halep] raised her game, raised her level", Stephens told press.

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Halep, who has lost all three of her Grand Slam finals - including the Australian Open, to Caroline Wozniacki, in January - arrived in Paris on a hot streak, reaching at least the quarter-finals in her last nine claycourt tournaments and losing only one set on her way to facing Kerber in Paris.

She then spotted Virginia Ruzici.

What Halep just did to Garbine Muguruza was not only unexpected (none of us predicted it yesterday), it was the most impressive performance we've seen from any tennis player this year.

"She's had a tough journey".

Halep was closing in on the title she craved so much, while Stephens was wilting fast, and a comfortable hold made it 5-0.

Romania's Simona Halep kisses the trophy as she celebrates after winning the final against Sloane Stephens of the US, Roland Garros, Paris, France, June 9, 2018. "I have just to play", the world number one said. "So I have always, you know, and especially having a daughter, like, I feel like negativity is taught".

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And though there was some brief drama when Keys conjured up a break of her own just as Stephens was serving for the match, it only served to delay the inevitable.

Muguruza pounced on Sharapova's errors to lead 4-0.

Many Americans struggle on the red dirt because of the lack of red clay courts in the United States but several players have managed to master the surface nonetheless. And, especially, as Halep collected game after game down the stretch. She won the second set 6-3 and ran away with the decider 6-2.

"I am very pleased to be in another semi-final in Paris", said Muguruza who has yet to drop a set in the tournament and claimed her first win over Sharapova in four meetings. But she failed to convert any of those, and Halep held there, before breaking at love to end it.

Stephens had a valiant start in her quest to become the first American woman other than Serena Williams to capture two Grand Slams in one cycle since 2002.

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