The stages are set: ATP World #1 Rafael Nadal will get his Madrid rematch against Dominic Thiem, while WTA World #1 Simona Halep will face American superstar Sloane Stephens. Nothing is guaranteed in the sport of tennis, and both of these matchups prove it. ATP fans will remember how Thiem expertly packed the bags of Nadal in the quarterfinals of Madrid earlier this year (7-5, 6-3). This ended Rafa’s 21-match, 50-set streak on clay. On the flip side, we all know about Rafa’s historic dominance on the red clay courts of Paris.
During the WTA clash, Halep will seek her first Grand Slam title, while Stephens will battle for her second. Despite Halep’s #1 ranking, she has never been able to get over that final hump and capture a Grand Slam championship (she is a 3-time runner up). Stephens is the first American woman whose last name is not Williams to reach a French Open final since Jennifer Capriati won in 2001.
We all know how difficult it can be to capture a Grand Slam title. The sheer number of wins required in a compressed schedule test the endurance of even the world’s best. This is on top of the fact that everybody brings their A-game to such events. Below, we outline the path of each Roland Garros finalist, and give a brief look into their Grand Slam profiles.
The Road to the Finals
It doesn’t take an expert to pick Rafael Nadal as the Roland Garros winner. The man already has 10 French Open titles to his name, and always seems to save his best for Paris. He has defeated a number of greats in his previous championship runs, such as Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. However, this year he faces a man who snapped his impressive run on clay earlier this season in Dominic Thiem.
Out of everyone who took the court in Paris this year, Dominic Thiem was clearly the top candidate to upset Rafael Nadal. Thiem knocked Nadal out of Madrid earlier this year, and looks to do the same at Rafa’s favorite venue. While Thiem has never won a Grand Slam, this year marked his third consecutive semifinal appearance at the French Open, and first Grand Slam final. It will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure.
While almost everybody predicted Simona Halep of Romania to make a deep run in this year’s Roland Garros tournament, many still have questions as to whether or not she can get over the final hurdle and win a Grand Slam (she was the runner up in Paris in 2014 and 2017, as well as in Melbourne this year). That being said, Halep’s form has looked very solid this year, and it feels inevitable that she’ll win at least one major tournament in the near future.
Trying to stop Halep is American Sloane Stephens, who already has a Grand Slam title of her own from last year’s US Open. Stephens had a slow start to the 2018 season with a first round exit at the Australian Open, but battled back from that result to eventually go on and win the Miami Open. Stephens began the 2018 clay season with some ups and downs, but has really turned up the heat in Paris. She goes into the Roland Garros final as the “underdog”, but certainly has a fighting chance to capture her second major crown.
The Equipment of Champions
To shop for the tennis gear that Nadal, Thiem, Halep, and Stephens use, simply click on the images below:
For More on Roland Garros 2018
To explore additional content on the 2018 French Open, check out our blogs below: