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Halep vs Stephens WTA Montreal live streaming, preview and tips - French Open final rematch as Halep and Stephens clash for Rogers Cup title

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 12 Aug 2018
  • Simona Halep vs Sloane Stephens is live from Montreal at 1.30pm local time on Sunday (6.30pm BST)
  • Halep leads their head-to-head 6-2, including winning their French Open final duel earlier this year
Simona Halep (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens face off in a French Open final rematch when the pair battle it out for the WTA Premier-5 Rogers Cup title in Montreal on Sunday.

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World No. 1 Simona Halep scored the biggest win of her career when she recovered from a set-and-a-break down to beat Sloane Stephens for her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open earlier this season - can the Romanian repeat that effort to take home the 2018 Rogers Cup crown in Montreal on Sunday, or will the American and reigning U.S. Open champion avenge that loss and collect her first WTA Premier-5 trophy and second title of 2018? Either way, it promises to be a scintillating showpiece between arguably the two best women on tour right now.

It was a challenging start to the Rogers Cup for top seed Halep as she was forced to complete her opening two matches in one day due to rain. First came a gruelling and energy-sapping 7-6(9) 4-6 7-5 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, but ever since Halep has gone from strength to strength in Montreal, surging into her third final at the Rogers Cup without dropping another set. The 26-year-old was far too good for veteran Venus Williams in the Round of 16, prevailing 6-2 6-2 in routine fashion, while the Romanian withstood an opening set barrage from Caroline Garcia in the quarter-finals to steal it late before finishing the Frenchwoman off by a 7-5 6-1 scoreline. Halep then came through a similar sort of contest in the semi-finals against Australian star Ashleigh Barty, winning seven of the last eight games to emerge triumphant 6-4 6-1 and advance into her third Rogers Cup final in the last four years.

"I just want to give my best tomorrow and to enjoy the final because it's a great thing after a long break to play final at a big tournament," Halep said after the win.
"The experience and the great moments that I had two years ago. It's always nice to play here, always I say, and I feel it.”

Halep made her first Rogers Cup final in 2015 when the tournament was played in Toronto, beating Angelique Kerber and Agnieszka Radwanska before going down to a teenage Belinda Bencic in the title match, while she went one step further in 2016 in Montreal, defeating Kerber again - along with Karolina Pliskova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Madison Keys to take home the silverware. Halep once again made it deep into the Rogers Cup last season after a win over Caroline Garcia, but she was bundled out in the semi-finals by eventual champion Elina Svitolina. Now, back into the Rogers Cup - or Coupe Rogers as the tournament is known in Montreal - can Halep claim her second title in Canada?

There’s no doubt Halep has been the most consistent player on tour this season - and that’s obviously why she’s the World No. 1, with the Romanian beginning the season by winning the Shenzhen title and finishing runner-up at the Australian Open, while she also made the final of Rome, the semi-finals of Doha and Indian Wells and quarter-finals in Madrid and Stuttgart in addition to her crowning achievement of winning her maiden major title at the French Open. And now Halep will face the same player she did in Paris for the chance to win a third title of 2018 in Montreal.

Sloane Stephens (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Sloane Stephens would have been ruing her missed opportunity in that Roland Garros for quite some time - and perhaps it contributed in a way to her first round exit at Wimbledon shortly afterwards, but the American has the chance to avenge that defeat on Sunday in Montreal - can she do it? Stephens was a perfect 6-0 in tour-level finals before that match, winning her first title in Washington D.C. in 2015, winning three more in Auckland, Acapulco and Charleston in 2016, securing her fifth in famous fashion at the U.S. Open in 2017 and capturing her first Premier Mandatory crown earlier this season at the Miami Open.

Stephens is still somewhat of a hit-or-miss type of player - she’s still prone to shocking early defeats in tournaments, but if she can get through her first couple of matches she transforms into a beast of a player - and that’s what’s happened in Montreal this week, with the 25-year-old advancing into the final without relinquishing a set in clinical victories over Francoise Abanda, Carla Suarez Navarro, Anastasija Sevastova and defending champion Elina Svitolina.

Of course, it was at the Rogers Cup 12 months ago when Stephens began what has ended up as a meteoric rise up the rankings. Ranked outside the top 900 in the world after being sidelined with ankle and foot injuries, Stephens ended the summer inside the top 20 after back-to-back semi-finals at the Rogers Cup and Western & Southern Open before landing her first Grand Slam title in style at the U.S. Open. With a Miami Open title and French Open runner-up showing under her belt this season, Stephens has risen all the way to No. 3 in the world and is close to leapfrogging Caroline Wozniacki into No. 2. Can she cap a whirlwind 12 months with a first Premier-5 crown on Sunday?

It truly is the dream final. Halep and Stephens are in my opinion the two best players on tour at the moment, while both are relatively recent Grand Slam champions who are trying to take their game to even bigger heights going forward. They are relatively similar players, although Stephens is naturally more aggressive. Halep is more consistent from week to week, but if Stephens plays her best - like she is right now - I do think she has the advantage in this match-up, despite winning just two of their eight meetings. The American’s supreme athleticism means she can hang with Halep from the baseline and her ability to turn defence into offence is arguably second to none. Halep was able to claw her way back into the match on clay, but I also think hardcourt favours the more aggressive player - and that’s Stephens. We could be in for another dramatic showdown, but I’m leaning on the side of Stephens to prevail and take home the 2018 Rogers Cup title.

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Halep vs Stephens WTA Montreal live streaming, preview and tips - French Open final rematch as Halep and Stephens clash for Rogers Cup title

Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens face off in a French Open final rematch when the pair battle it out for the WTA Premier-5 Rogers Cup title in Montreal on Sunday.

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