Paris: Sometimes history finds a way to repeat itself with the addition of an unforeseen quirk, to fashion the happiest of new chapters. So it was for Simona Halep in the final of Roland Garros 2018.
One year ago on Court Philippe-Chatrier, she led Jelena Ostapenko by a set and a break, only for the Latvian to turn the match on its head and break her opponent’s heart. Twelve months on, Halep found herself a set and a break down to Sloane Stephens, looking down the barrel of her fourth defeat in a Grand Slam final. She didn’t much like the view.
With the weight of global expectation on her shoulders, Halep forced her way back, past an opponent playing with the freedom of one who has already exceeded expectation by reaching the final. This time, the Romanian would not be defeated, pushing on through exhaustion all the way to victory. Halep won 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. The world No.1 is at last a Grand Slam champion. This was Halep’s first Grand Slam title after falling at the final hurdle three times – Roland Garros (2014, 2017) and the Australian Open (2018).
Celebration with coach
Simona Halep celebrated her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros with a hug from the man who has helped her improve the most, her coach Darren Cahill. She hugged a lot of people in her player box but her moment with Cahill was the most special. Cahill famously walked out on Halep after her loss at the Miami Open last year after being displeased with her effort and attitude. The incident became a turning point in her career. Halep made quick changes, improving her mental game exponentially and reaching three of her four major finals afterward as well as No. 1 for the first time.