2018 WTA French Open Final Betting Preview: Can Halep Hold Her Head?

2018 WTA French Open Final Betting Preview: Can Halep Hold Her Head? article feature image
Credit:

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Simona Halep

The Highlights

  • Simona Halep (-250) and Sloane Stephens will meet in the French Open final on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. ET.
  • Halep will try to win her first major title, which she has failed to do three previous times.
  • Meanwhile, Stephens won her only Slam final appearance at the 2017 U.S. Open and owns a 6-0 Tour level championship-match record.
  • Don’t miss the first set, as the winner of the opening set has won 19 of the last 20 women’s Grand Slam finals.

We didn’t get much drama in the semifinals, as both Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens came through with ease in straight sets. Now, the tennis world is buzzing about Halep having a fourth shot at winning her first Slam title — something Stephens accomplished in her first try at the 2017 U.S. Open. Let’s take a closer look at the final, which pits two top 10 in-form players against each other.

Simona Halep (-225) vs. Sloane Stephens (+205) | O/U: 21.5

All eyes will be on Halep on Saturday afternoon in Paris — and whether or not she can win finally her maiden Grand Slam title — something she has failed to do three previous times.

As you can see, she has played competitively in those championship matches, as all three went three sets. It’s all just a mental issue of not being able to close out a match. Halep has even lost the last four Premier finals she has played, including on the clay of Rome in both 2017 and 2018. She also lost in the 2014 WTA Tour Finals in Singapore.

In last year’s French Open, she led Jelena Ostapenko by a set and 3-0 before losing serve three consecutive times to drop the second set. The Romanian did recover to take a 3-1 lead in the final set. However, once again, she lost her serve three straight times — to finish runner-up at a Slam final, once again.

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The same thing happened earlier this year in Melbourne. After losing the first set to Caroline Wozniacki, Halep bounced back to take the second to level the match. She then once again went up a break in the final set of a Slam (4-3) but dropped serve two straight times to give Wozniacki her first major title.

And, while Halep didn’t go up a break in the third set against Maria Sharapova in the 2014 French Open final, she did lose the final eight points of the match — after leveling it at 4-4.

If this match is close, it will be fascinating to see if Halep can find a way to block out all of her recent failures in finals and finally capture the Slam she’s been so desperately seeking.

Steady Sloane

On the other end of the spectrum, Stephens has demonstrated her Slam composure multiple times in her young career. The American showed no signs of nerves against Madison Keys in her first Grand Slam final last year at the U.S. Open, which she won convincingly. She also held her nerves earlier in this tourney against Camila Giorgi, who failed to serve out the match twice in the third set.

Even more impressive, the American has a perfect 6-0 record in Tour-level tournament finals, winning five of them in straights. In those five straight-set victories, not one opponent won more than two games in the second set. It really speaks to the streakiness of Stephens. When she get rolling in a tourney, she’s tough to beat.

Head-to-head

Sloane certainly won’t gift this away, but it is a very favorable matchup for her opponent. Halep has won five of their seven career meetings, including four straight and each of their two previous clashes on clay — both in straight sets.

Interestingly enough, not a single one went three sets — and they played only one tiebreaker over the 14 sets.

Prediction

Both are counterpunchers with outstanding defensive skills who also possess the weapons to put points away when necessary. However, I think Halep is a little more offensive-minded — which is why she’s had so much past success against Stephens. Essentially, neither player will beat the other with her defense, so it comes down to who plays more aggressively. And Halep does that just a little bit better.

Just take a look at Halep’s performance in the semis against Garbiñe Muguruza, where she used a mix of defensive and offensive tennis to perfection. Meanwhile, Stephens simply got everything back, waiting on the inevitable Keys error. She won’t have that same luxury against Simona.

The line looks about right to me, as Halep should beat Stephens on clay about seven out of every 10 times, which the -250 moneyline implies. It will just come down to how Halep holds her head — because we know Stephens handles these situations well.

Make sure you don’t miss the first set, as the winner of the opening set has won 19 of the past 20 women’s Grand Slam finals. The one exception, however, was Halep’s loss last year at Roland-Garros.