Simona Halep was so desperate to end her grand slam drought she could barely breathe as she served for the French Open.

History repeated itself at Roland Garros but this time the world's number one player came out on the right side.

A year ago on Court Philippe Chatrier, Halep led Jelena Ostapenko by a set and a break, only for the unseeded Latvian to mount an unlikely fightback and deal her a crushing defeat.

So when, 12 months on, Halep found herself a set and a break down to Sloane Stephens and staring at a fourth grand slam final defeat, she decided to do something about it.

Around an hour later Stephens flopped a service return into the net, Halep dropped her racket to the floor and covered her face with her hands in disbelief at completing a memorable 3-6 6-4 6-1 victory.

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."

"In the last game I didn't feel like I could breathe any more and I didn't want to repeat last year, so I did everything I could.

"I was dreaming about this moment since I started to play tennis. I'm really happy that it's happened at Roland Garros in Paris. My special city."

Amid some spellbinding rallies, Stephens clinched a solitary break to take the first set.

The 10th seed was by far the more composed of the two players, with Halep playing the aggressor but unable to breach her defence.

US Open champion Stephens looked to have taken control of the match with another break at the start of the second set.

But Halep, stung into action, levelled up in the fourth game, breaking Stephens to love as the first chinks in the American's armour appeared.

A hold to love meant Halep had taken eight unanswered points, and another break followed as Stephens' levels dipped for the first time in the match.

But just as the set was slipping away from Stephens, a series of unforced errors by Halep gifted the break back for 4-4.

Halep survived a pressurised service game and then turned the screw, eking out a break point from which Stephens planted wide to force a deciding set.

A hold and a break later and Halep was ahead for the first time in the match, with Stephens' error count rising and rising.

A second break followed, the result of a stunning rally with both players slugging it out at the baseline before charging into the net, Stephens blinking first.

Halep was closing in on the title she craved so much, while Stephens was wilting fast, and a comfortable hold made it 5-0.

Gutsy Stephens forced Halep to serve it out but, as yet another chorus of 'Simona' rang around Court Philippe Chatrier from the vast Romanian contingent, she did just that.

Stephens, 25, showed her class afterwards, saying: "Congratulations Simona on your first slam, it looks good on you.

"There's no one else I'd rather lose to than the number one in the world."