- Try and try again
Simona Halep had lost her previous three Grand Slam finals. Two of them were in Paris in 2014 and 2017 and she went down in the 2018 Australian Open final as well. But on day 14, the Romanian got her first. She overpowered the 10th seed Sloane Stephens. The American was asked what changed. “She just raised her level and started playing better,” she replied. “Sometimes it happens when you play against an opponent.” Never thought of that.
- Off home to reflect on new shiny possessions
Sloane Stephens had a perfect record of 6-0 in finals before the French Open showdown on day 14. After her three set defeat to Simona Halep, she is now 6-1. But she is also 1,120,000 euros to the good. Halep has been bolstered by a cheque for 2,200,000. Stephens said she was unaware of the prize money before the final. “Well, I heard what it was and I'm a little let down,” she joshed. “I mean, it's more than what I had before, so that's something to be proud of. I mean, you do it for the love of the sport, not so much for the money. But the money does in fact encourage you to want to get to another Grand Slam final.” And win Sloane. And win.
- It takes two to tango and – if you’re French – to win the French Open
The French have been waiting for more than three decades to laud a winner in the men’s singles. They haven’t had a home champion in the event since Yannick Noah in 1983. Those were the days when the review was a student and journalism was but a twinkle in the eye. However, Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hugues Herbert have put an end to the hurting with a victory in the men’s doubles. Just after the women’s singles final, they beat Oliver Marach from Austria and Mate Pavic from Croatia 6-2 7-6 to lift their first doubles title at the French Open. The duo have already claimed Wimbledon in 2016 and the US Open in 2015. Gesturing to the centre court crowd, Mahut said: “I’d like to thank you all. You’ve supported us throughout the two weeks and in a way, our victory is your victory.” The public loved it. It’s the only winner’s speech they’ll hear from a Frenchman for at least another year.
- Another inner-child interaction
Earlier in the tournament the former world number one Novak Djokovic was recounting how he was having chats with his inner child to remember why he wanted to play the game that has brought him more than 100 million euros in prize money and sponsorships. After she notched up her first Grand Slam triumph, Simona Halep was happy to talk about the girlhood dreams of winning Roland Garros. The Romanian won the girls’ singles title in 2008 and, more or less 10 years to the day, she lifted the ladies' crown. If that’s not symmetry, then get a load of this. Forty years ago Virginia Ruzici from Romania won the title – the last Romanian woman to do so. And she was at the final to see the mantle passed on. “She’s a motivation and inspiration,” said Halep of Ruzici. “It's a special moment. The fact that it's happened here, it's pretty special.”
- One final lost, another final to be won
Oliver Marach, just after losing the men’s doubles final with his partner Mate Kovic, was super-dry. He commented on how difficult it was playing a French pair in the final in front a partisan crowd. And then quipped how he hoped one Austrian would win a final on day 15. That would be Herr Dominic Thiem playing in his first major final up against Senor Rafael Nadal who has featured in 23 and won 16 of them and all 10 on the centre court at Roland Garros. Which one would be the Ubermensch?