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Friday, 8 June 2018

French Open Tennis Day 14 Picks 2018- Women's Final (June 9th)

The final Saturday at the French Open 2018 puts the limelight on the women's tournament with the Final to come between Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens.

This has the makings of a decent Final with the form both players have shown on their way to this stage and any match between two of the top four players in the World should be decent viewing. Nerves are also going to be a factor and I am looking forward to this one.

Simona Halep - 3.5 games v Sloane Stephens: At the end of this tournament, regardless of how it ends, Simona Halep is going to be the World Number 1 and Sloane Stephens will be moving up to World Number 4. Have no doubt the Romanian would switch those positions now if it meant breaking her Grand Slam barrier and finally winning one of the big ones having come so close in recent years to do so.

Nerves got the better of Halep last year in Paris when she allowed Jelena Ostapenko to come back from a set and a break down to win the title here. However since then Halep has shown toughness and came so close to winning the Australian Open earlier in the year against another player who was chasing a first Grand Slam title in Caroline Wozniacki.

This time Halep has not had the hard fought Semi Final which would have sapped some energy from the legs and the clay courts are her favourite domain. The performances in recent years have suggested Halep is the best clay courter out there, but much of this match is going to depend on how she handles the pressure.

Halep also faces a tough American in Sloane Stephens who is much better on the clay courts than her overall results may suggest. The strong returning game is backed up by a decent serve and Stephens has been rounding into peak form the closer we have got to the Final which makes her very dangerous for Halep.

Stephens also won the first time she reached a Grand Slam Final at the US Open last September and that big match mentality does make her a real challenge for Halep too. Where Halep may have some doubts, Stephens has clarity and knows she has been able to handle the pressure of playing for the big titles over the last ten months having followed the US Open win with another at the Miami Masters in March.

There is little doubt in my mind that Halep would beat Stephens if this match was played in Rome or one of the clay court tournaments prior to the French Open and I would be comfortable backing her earlier in the French Open draw. However you can't ignore the nerves that could play a part especially knowing Halep has not been able to play at her best in recent matches at the latter stages of the Grand Slams.

The performance at the Australian Open makes me think Halep is getting better at handling the pressure and she has the numbers which makes her the clear favourite here. As well as Stephens has been playing at the French Open she is perhaps overachieving a little bit and this is clearly the toughest player she has met in Paris over the last two weeks.

Stephens has been really strong at the French Open, but Halep has been at her usual high levels on the surface since dropping her opening set at the tournament. Halep has to find a way to get through some nervy moments that she will face like she did in her Semi Final win over Garbine Muguruza, but I think her time has come to win a Grand Slam and underline her status as the World Number 1.

There will be times Stephens is able to expose the nerves having shown ice cold nerves in pressurised situations at the US Open, but the clay courts are clearly a favourite of her opponent. Halep also has won the last four matches between these players with the last couple coming on the hard courts in North America last summer.

Halep has won over 50% of the return points in each of those four wins and she has been returning very, very well in this tournament which can see her edge out Stephens in both sets of a straight sets win.

MY PICKS: Simona Halep - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 William Hill (2 Units)

French Open Update: 46-53, - 17.64 Units (190 Units Staked, - 9.28% Yield)

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