Sloane Stephens insists she can be “proud” to have reached another Grand Slam final, but admits it is mere consolation after losing to Simona Halep at the French Open.
The American was targeting a second major triumph to follow last year’s memorable US Open victory but succumbed to persistent pressure from the world No 1, as the Romanian won a captivating encounter 3-6 6-4 6-1 at Roland Garros.
Stephens, who came into the match with an unbeaten record from her six Tour-level finals, began strongly to secure the first set and then claim a break advantage before Halep maintained her own impressive level to capture a maiden Grand Slam.
The 25-year-old, who will rise to a career-high world No 4 on Monday, suffered a torrid run of results following her victory at Flushing Meadows, but rediscovered her form to win the Miami Open before her fine run in Paris.
“Not many players ever get to a Grand Slam final and I have won one and been in another one in a short period of time,” Stephens said.
“I am not satisfied but I am proud of myself.”
Stephens mixed good movement with her powerful groundstrokes to great effect in the early stages against Halep, who was aiming to avoid a fourth Grand Slam final defeat, to secure the early momentum.
“She just raised the level of her game and started playing better,” Stephens said.
The two players shared a warm embrace at the net after the match, which thrilled the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd, and Stephens was full of praise for her victorious opponent.
“I think she’s had a tough journey,” Stephens said of Halep. “I think winning here is very special and I’m glad she finally got her first slam. It’s a beautiful thing, very special.”
When asked what she had told Halep, Stephens said: “Show the world your trophy.
“You have been waiting for this so you’d better put it up in the air and show them what you got today.”