Olympian Sloane Stephens will play for her second Grand Slam title after beating fellow 2016 U.S. Olympic Team member Madison Keys in the semifinal, 6-4, 6-4, at the French Open on Thursday.
Stephens, who defeated Keys to win the US Open last year, will face top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania in the final on Saturday. Halep, who is seeking her first Grand Slam title, beat Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in Thursday’s other semifinal, 6-1, 6-4. The 26-year-old is 0-3 in Grand Slam finals.
The US Open was Stephens’ first appearance in a Grand Slam final.
Thursday’s match between No. 10 Stephens and No. 13 Keys was much closer than their meeting at the US Open, which Stephens won, 6-3, 6-0. Keys’ 40 unforced errors made life difficult and Stephens was more controlled throughout the match, but it was still a battle that showcased how much both Americans are continuing to improve on the world stage.
“It’s always hard to play someone from your country and such a good friend so I’m really pleased to get through that and play some good tennis,” Stephens said in a post-match television interview. “This is one of my favorite tournaments and I’m so happy to be in the final here. It’s a great opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Stephens, 25, broke serve in the third game of the first set then took a 3-1 lead as errors began to plague Keys, 23. Keys kept herself in it, however, trailing 4-3 and then 5-4 before Stephens took the first set.
Stephens broke serve to open the second set and went ahead 2-0. The US Open champ appeared ready to put it away at 5-2 but Keys once again battled back, breaking Stephens and then closing to 5-4. A backhand winner sealed it for Stephens.