Halep vs Stephens (By: Khum)
Simona Halep - Sloane Stephens
One more Grand Slam final for S1mona, yet this is a new player compared to those who have played the past two Roland Garros finals.
In 2014 she had the opportunity to beat Sharapova yet she wasn't mentally ready.
One year ago she was up a set and 3:0 against ostapenko when she has shown her lack of belief and she has become defensive.
People were raising douts on her having what it takes in order to win a Slam.
In January, in the Australian Open Final, despite the tough loss due to physical exhaustion (she has played all the tournament through a injured ankle and that led to a few very long matches) ... suddenly the people started to say: yes, she will win Grand Slams. Mentally she was in a different place.
In this tournament she has been the upgraded version of Simona. Not waisting her energy in the first stages as she won easily till the QF, never doubting herself when facing adversity and fighting for every ball no matter the scoreboard, she came in the semifinal outmuguruzing Muguruza. Yes, she was aggresive both in placement and shot selection and she was outhitting one of the biggest hitters in WTA. She has defended fiercely every ball and she stood steady when her belief was tested, at 2-4 in the second set and then, in that huge 9 minutes game at 4-4.
She won, as Navratilova has said, because she's not anymore that Simona who used to await for fits, but a version of her which is going out to take what she wants.
In the press conference before the final she was looking as she looked all the tournament: all business, relaxed, not feeling a heavy moment. NOW SHE KNOWS WHO SHE IS AND WHAT SHE'S MADE FROM.
Sloane, on the other hand, came to this final less tested than Halep, yet that means little, as we know her as a big match player, one who connects herself in the moment and delivers in the most important matches. She is, as I've said in a previous tip, the owner of a almost perfect balance between defense and offense, she's got a great serve and aa huge forehand and she's one of the best defenders in the game. Stephens likes to put the opponents on the run and to push them to shot from uncomfortable positions. Hmm ... not a good recipe for today, as Halep is the ultimate defender in the women's game, her on court moving is at mastery level and she will naturally compete at a high level in this department.
The h2h speaks for halep, yet I find it of little relevance at this point.
Big match, big opportunity, where for two players with kind of matching qualities the difference will be made in the space between the ears.
If Simona is commited to this version of herself we've seen this fortnight, she will win in straights, grab what she wants and then her fans could wait for some more Slams coming from this new state of mind.
Let's go green!
Halep vs Stephens prediction
|Simona Halep -1.5 sets||Pinnacle||2.14||9||2-1 LOST (-9 units)|