French Open | Simona Halep aims for maiden Grand Slam title
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World number one Simona Halep says she will “stay chilled” in Saturday’s French Open final as she attempts to vanquish memories of defeat in her previous three Grand Slam finals.
The Romanian, who was runner-up in Paris in 2014 and 2017 and at the Australian Open in January, will play American Sloane Stephens.
“I’ve lost three times up until now. No-one died,” the 26-year-old said.
“It’s a big chance but you never know, so I will stay chilled.”
Halep led unseeded world number 47 Jelena Ostapenko by a set and 3-0 in last year’s Roland Garros final, but could not contain the 20-year-old’s attacking game, eventually losing 4-6 6-4 6-3.
She admitted afterwards that she felt sick with nerves, adding “maybe I wasn’t ready to win it, but maybe next time”.
“I will be I think more confident because I have a lot of experience,” she said after booking her place in this year’s final with a 6-1 6-4 win over world number three Garbine Muguruza.
She is certainly more used to playing on clay.
n addition to her two runs to the final in Paris, she won the junior title in 2008 and has won seven clay-court titles on the women’s tour.
Stephens by contrast has only one title on the surface and has advanced beyond the fourth round for the first time.
The 25-year-old, however, does have experience of winning a Grand Slam.
She beat her compatriot Madison Keys to claim the US Open title in 2017 and has raised her game on the big stage once again.
She looked composed in beating Keys in straight sets in the semi-final in Paris and has a straightforward mindset for Saturday’s showdown with Halep.
“It’s just mainly about competing. No-one is going to hand you the match,” she said.
“It’s a Grand Slam final. You have to go out there and get after it and make sure you play every point and try to execute your game plan as best as possible.”