Muguruza brushes off Sharapova to reach French Open semi-final

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova

Halep, who assured herself of retaining the No 1 ranking with the victory, earned a fourth chance to win her first major title.

Muguruza had thrashed Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals but Halep was a different proposition entirely, and it seemed she knew it.

Halep had lost her previous three Slam finals, including two at Roland-Garros, but outlasted the American to finally break her duck. Halep won her semifinal match due to winning 56 percent of her return points and producing six breaks.

Halep has been beaten in all of her previous Major final appearances, including at Roland Garros a year ago by Jelena Ostapenko.

After New York, she lost her next eight matches, a run encompassing the Asian swing of late 2017 and the early exchanges of 2018, including a demoralising first round exit at the Australian Open.

Sharapova's autobiography - the 31-year-old said her rivalry with Williams started after 2004 Wimbledon, where Sharapova won her first Grand Slam by defeating Williams in straight sets. At the Miami Open in March, she won the title, beating four major champions in a row. "I missed a lot at the beginning of the match".

Like Halep, Stephens is an incredibly talented defensive player, and she kept stretching points Thursday until Keys would err. She got even closer in last year's final against Jelena Ostapenko, an unseeded Latvian, before losing a one-set, 3-0 lead as Ostapenko took big swings and risks, most of which paid off.

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Muguruza improved in the early stages of the second set, holding serve for the first time and backing it up with a break on her way to a 3-1 lead.

But from 0-2 down in the second set, Halep was able to change the flow of the match.

Romania's Simona Halep came from a set down to beat Angelique Kerber in 2 hours 14 minutes. "I just want to play as I did today, and as I did every day". Whereas Halep has an unenviable record at the sharp end of majors. "I played again one of my best matches on clay". "When I'm talking about progression or looking back at the weeks, I think there are a lot of good things, like the way my body has handled the long matches that I have played, the back-to-backs".

The second set was tighter as the players traded breaks until Halep finally got back on level terms when Stephens hit a backhand wide on set point.

Jamie Lisanti: This year's French Open final is a ideal example of when the heart says one thing but the brain says another. "Both of us will be ready to give everything we have", she said.

Keys briefly rallied to pull one break back, but Stephens did not waste her second opportunity, sealing victory on her first match point with a glorious backhand victor down the line. I'm backing Halep to win in three sets.

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