Sloane Stephens into French Open final by winning all-American semi

Kristopher Nichols
June 8, 2018

World number one Simona Halep has another chance to finally land her first Grand Slam title after beating Garbine Muguruza in the French Open semi-finals.

She twice has lost in the final at Roland Garros - to Maria Sharapova in 2014 and to Jelena Ostapenko in 2017 - and was the runner-up to Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open in January.

Muguruza's big strokes overwhelmed Maria Sharapova right from the start and their quarter-final was no contest at all in a 6-2, 6-1 one-way journey.

When the top-seeded Halep and No 3 Muguruza meet Thursday, their contrasting styles will match up with plenty at stake.

Such impressive data from this match has led to Muguruza being chalked up as a [1.89] favourite over Halep, and I want to discuss why I think this is an utterly freaky line. Also I pushed her back. Halep was impressive in digging out a three-set victory over Angelique Kerber on Wednesday, but it was the sort of match-up she favours.

Muguruza said Halep's fast start had been the key.

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Keys made it to the semis with a straight-sets win over Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva while reigning US Open champion Stephens eased past Russia's Daria Kasatkina.

After the five-time Grand Slam victor Sharapova lost in the French Open quarterfinals to Garbine Muguruza, she hit back at Williams' accusations and comments about her book. "But before that, we are not going to be weird and awkward and make it, like, weird for each other", said Stephens, who was close to going out in the third round to Camila Giorgi before winning 8-6 in a deciding set. Muguruza has won seven of her last nine matches on clay court.

"I think it would be unusual for me not to include someone that I have competed against for so many years", said the 31-year-old.

Muguruza leads Halep 3-1 head-to-head, but this is their first Grand Slam matchup. Thanks to her sublime athleticism and great ball-striking, she can essentially "shut the court down" against her opponents, slowly smothering them with controlled aggression, injections of pace or go on lock-down defensively.

The victor of Thursday's semi-final will also decide the world number one spot which Muguruza held for four weeks previous year. "I just want to play as I did today, and as I did every day".

Her victory over third seed Muguruza also means she will retain the world No. 1 ranking next week. In the first set, Halep had 30 unforced errors.

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