Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza set up semi-final; Nadal in limbo

Sherman Parsons
June 8, 2018

Sloane Stephens has dropped one set, in the third round to Camila Giorgi - who served for the match twice, but fell 4-6, 6-1, 8-6.

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. The Spaniard won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon previous year.

Twelve months ago, while Simona Halep was crumbling to defeat in the French Open final, Sloane Stephens was off the tour, attending the wedding of a friend in Ireland.

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Halep has struggled in the first set of matches so far in the tournament and was asked about that today after beating Muguruza 6-1 in the opener. "Coming into this part of the year, I was losing a few first-round matches, matches that I wanted to be winning, of course". Halep saved two match points to win that one.

Garbine Muguruza is coming off a straight sets win over Maria Sharapova that took 15 games to decide.

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Kerber eventually prevailed in a tiebreak, but Halep came out all guns blazing in the second, firing baseline bullets at her opponent, who tried to cling on against the onslaught. "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". So I will stay chilled. Muguruza had claimed one break of her own, but it did little to aid her cause, as she was already 5-0 down at the time, and she would lose her serve again in the following game anyway to give away the set. She's shown it. It's a great match.

And in a rip-roaring second set, Muguruza ratcheted up the intensity and broke in the third game, but a determined Halep pegged it back at 4-4. I think she didn't miss a lot. In the victory, Muguruza won 72 percent of her first serve points and 46 percent of her second serve points.

In the first last-four clash between a pair of American women at Roland Garros since Serena Williams beat Jennifer Capriati on her way to the 2002 title, it was Stephens who blazed her way into the final.

The Romanian arrived in Paris as the top seed and the leading player on the WTA Tour this year, hoping this would be the moment she finally lands her first major.

The 24-year-old Spaniard stopped the rot in the sixth game before Halep quickly reasserted her authority. Like Sharapova, Halep was erratic early, making 30 unforced errors in the first set. It was an emphatic performance for Muguruza, who made it to the fourth round of the US Open last year and just the second round of the Australian Open earlier this year. "It was before because I really wanted to get there, but now my goals are different".

The next step for Halep will be her most hard.

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