Sloane steady wins the race for Stephens

Halep has won all seven matches against left-handers this campaign

Halep began slowly, unable to solve Stephens, the 10th-seeded American who won her first Grand Slam at last year's US Open.

Halep also becomes the second Romanian woman to win a Grand Slam singles trophy.

"When I started to win games, I said that past year the same thing happened to me", she said.

'I have been dreaming of this moment since I started to play tennis.

Stephens, seeded 10th in the showcase clay-court event, had been dreaming of extending her flawless record in Grand Slam finals, having beaten friend and compatriot Madison Keys to win last year's US Open. She collected herself and relied on her superior fitness to wear down Stephens, who looked flat by the end of the second set.

There was also a big hug for coach Darren Cahill who was in the losers' box previous year when Halep blew a commanding lead against Jelena Ostapenko in the final. The player who was up a set and 3-0 in the second in last year's final at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament was now the one able to dismiss a deficit.

After her third-round win against Julia Goerges, Williams charged at Sharapova's book, questioning why it wasn't truthful - at least to her - and why Sharapova was so obsessed with her as a subject.

"There is a lot of times where I feel like she made the ball by a centimetre", Keys continued, "and I was missing it".

"I think we are going to have a terrific tussle".

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"She's had a tough journey".

Halep is still chasing her first Grand Slam title.

After breaking Stephens to even the match at one set apiece, she jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the final set. It often seemed effortless for Stephens, who broke for a 3-1 edge when Halep put a forehand in the net.

Halep promises to offer a more stern challenge, having won five of her seven meetings with Stephens, but the American will hope the world No. 1 will again falter in the final of a Slam, a stage on which she has so far failed to produce her best. And her victory didn't lack for theatrics, as she looked dead set on a path to defeat after Stephens' hot start and yet left her opponent without any answers in a 6-1 closing set. "I should've changed my game when I noticed she was changing hers".

Stephens managed to land a couple of late blows, but Halep confidently served it out, sealing victory on her first match point when her opponent netted a return.

After climbing up the stands, Pat Cash-style, to hug her Australian coach Darren Cahill, the 26-year-old Romanian said: "Honestly, I can't believe it".

She broke in the fourth and served out for the set in the ninth game, showing some impressive defence against an increasingly aggressive Halep.

Halep said she would celebrate with a "big" party in Paris on Saturday night, then take a holiday before switching her attention to the grass-court season, which culminates at Wimbledon next month.

When the match ended, Halep dropped her racket at the baseline and covered her face with her hands.

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