When Sloane Stephens's last service-return bid had struck the net, Halep finally had freed herself of whatever goblins had come and lurked from three prior Grand Slam finals that went both long and melancholy. Halep has been on the cusp of winning Slams before, but she has cracked mentally on every occasion, losing all three of her finals in three sets.
Halep, who was beaten in the 2017 final despite holding a set and 3-0 lead against Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, kept up the momentum in the third set on Saturday to open up a 5-0 lead before earning a match point with a raging smash. At the Miami Open in March, she won the title, beating four major champions in a row.
"I obviously feel very sad for her, but at the same time I'm very happy for myself", Wozniacki said after the final in Australia.
Halep said afterewards: 'In the last game I felt that I could not grip [the racket] any more, so I just tried not to repeat the previous year.
"It's really tough to get any ball by her, but especially today, she was neutralizing so well".
But after falling behind an early break in the second set, Halep's tenacity and vigor, two of her great strengths as a player, turned the match around.
History repeated itself at Roland Garros but this time the world's number one player came out on the right side.
"Not the trophy I wanted", Stephens said, looking at her runner-up plate, "but it's still lovely".
Simona Halep finally shook off the shackles of her own expectations to clinch a Grand Slam title at the fourth time of asking in a final. Of her first 14 points, 13 arrived via errors by Muguruza - nine unforced, four forced. "See-moe-nah!" throughout. When she first walked out on Court Philippe Chatrier.
From there, Halep was firmly in control, and after securing the second set to force a decider, she rattled off the first five games of the third set.
Stephens broke for 3-1 and looked in control against a more anxious opponent who had started to put ore air under her shots with some moonballs. Halep does not possess the power of Keys, and Stephens has shown she is one of the best movers in the game.
The American lost a slew of first-round matches in the aftermath of her sensational US Open victory and seemed to be in total freefall before her form steadily started to improve at the start of the year, culminating with her impressive win at the Miami Open in March. But she failed to convert any of those, and Halep held there, before breaking at love to end it.