Simona Halep v Sloane Stephens: Talking points ahead of French Open clash

Simona Halep celebrates
Simona Halep celebrates

Simona Halep is favourite to end her grand slam hoodoo on Saturday when she faces Sloane Stephens. PA Sport take a closer look.

Top seed Simona Halep of Romania faces the United States' Sloane Stephens, seeded 10th, in the final of the French Open on Saturday.

Sky Bet make make Halep their 4/9 favourite with Stephens a 7/4 shot to follow up her US Open success from last year.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at the talking points surrounding their Roland Garros showdown.

Fourth time lucky?

Much has been made of Halep's failure to win a grand slam title. The world number one has made it to three major finals, two in Paris and in January's Australian Open, but lost them all. That record will surely be weighing on the Romanian's mind. Stephens won last year's US Open so the pressure on her may not be so intense.

Demons to bury

The only way Halep can realistically put last year's final defeat behind her is to win this one. Twelve months ago she was the tournament favourite and playing a huge underdog in the unseeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, but somehow contrived to lose in three sets. This time around she is playing the current Flushing Meadows champion, which should focus the mind.

Slow starter

Halep's main problem has been not starting her matches strongly enough. She dropped her first set of the tournament to Alison Riske, toiled at the beginning of her third-round match against Andrea Petkovic and lost a first-set tie-break in the quarter-final against Angelique Kerber. But her 6-1 drubbing of Garbine Muguruza in the last four showed she can make a fast start when necessary.

Tactical battle

Both Halep and Stephens are renowned counter-punchers. Stephens played a defensive game against compatriot Madison Keys in the semi-final, letting her opponent make all the mistakes. Halep has become more aggressive as the tournament has progressed, and she will try to be more proactive with her positioning and her shot selection.

In with the new

Much of the hype in the women's draw surrounded seasoned campaigners Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. But Williams had to pull out injured while Sharapova was pulverised by Muguruza in the quarter-final. Instead the semi-finals featured Keys, 23, Muguruza, 24, Stephens, 25 and Halep, 26. The new kids are definitely on the block in Paris.

Sloane Stephens
Sloane Stephens is looking for her second grand slam

Tale of the tape: Halep v Stephens

26 AGE 25

2006 TURNED PRO 2007

5ft 6in HEIGHT 5ft 7in

1 WORLD RANKING 10

16 CAREER TITLES 6

£17.5million CAREER PRIZE-MONEY £7.5million

28-6 WIN-LOSS IN 2018 15-8

0 GRAND SLAM TITLES 1

3 GRAND SLAM FINAL DEFEATS 0

5 HEAD-TO-HEAD WINS 2

6 FRENCH OPEN ACES (2018) 3

14 FRENCH OPEN DOUBLE FAULTS (2018) 2

107mph FRENCH OPEN FASTEST SERVE (2018) 111mph

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