Heading to Rome in 2018 was the last chance to prepare for Roland Garros.
Having been runner-up in Roland Garros twice before and Rome the year before a lot of success for Simona Halep was coming via Madrid on the clay but could she make that big step in time for Roland Garros.
A place in another Rome final was at stake as Simona Halep came up against Sharapova who of course defeated the Romanian in her first Grand Slam final.
Halep definitely took the initiative playing the more front foot tennis as she broke immediately in the match. The classic play of that Maria Sharapova backhand pushing Halep back and that drop shot from behind the baseline got the Russian back on track.
At this point Maria had found her groove and her ground strokes were effortlessly outstanding as she broke for a 5-3 lead having been a game away from 1-3.
Serving out the set became a problem for Maria who played her worst service game of the set to be broken but Simona Halep was in a giving mood being broken to love following some aggressive returning from Maria.
Once again Simona broke to take a 2-1 lead but Maria’s returning continued to be problematic but Halep stayed strong to consolidate her break of serve!
Following such a fantastic level in the first set the level of Maria’s play just dropped as she double faulted to gift the set 6-1 to Simona Halep going to a third set.
The Romanian’s ability to turn defence into attack was getting better and better as the match went on but Maria did up her level again to stay in touch with the Romanian.
Despite at 1-2 leading 30-0 Maria was broken following tenacious scrambling once again from Halep who had turned the tables and break for a 3-1 lead.
Sharapova never goes away and despite Halep leading for 4-1 the Russian fought back to 4-5 and back on serve!
Halep created some match point opportunities and some bold returning once again did the trick forcing the error and claiming a big win from a set down!
Halep did unfortunately go onto lose in the final for the second consecutive year but a few weeks later won her first Grand Slam at Roland Garros!