Halep overcomes Muguruza to take place in Roland Garros final

Halep overcomes Muguruza to take place in Roland Garros final

"I think I played one of my best matches on clay", Halep told reporters after Thursday's win.

Sloane Stephens beat compatriot and friend Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 to become the first American woman other than Venus or Serena Williams to reach the French Open final since Jennifer Capriati in 2001.

Halep has lost three previous Grand Slam finals, including two at Roland Garros in 2014 and 2017.

It will be Halep's second consecutive Grand Slam final and her fourth overall attempt to win her first title in a major.

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.

As great a mover and defender as Halep is, she could be left powerless if Muguruza is at her imposing best.

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Halep had to come back from a break of serve down in the second set and fend off three break points at 4-4 before finally closing out the victory, which guaranteed that she will remain No. 1 in the rankings after this tournament. "I've had issues with the right pectoral muscle to the point where I can't serve", said the 36-year-old after withdrawing from the match. "My head won it", Halep said.

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"And I think we played many matches".

A marathon ninth game proved pivotal as Halep saved three break points and stood firm before piling the pressure on the third seed to seize her chance. I don't know how long. 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 too good of a player to continue to come up short in the big moments.

Sharapova looked the more rusty of the two players, with two limp service games handing Muguruza an immediate 4-0 lead and consequently the first set.

"I think there is a lot of autobiographies out in the world, especially in the sporting world, that don't necessarily speak about whether they were rivals or someone they competed against". Adding more depth and bite to her strokes, she broke for a 2-1 lead.

But ultimately she paid the price of 41 unforced errors as Stephens served out the match at the second time of asking, sealing victory with a backhand down the line.

She played her way back into the top 50 earlier this year and earned a seed (28) here in a major for the first time since her forced hiatus. Like Sharapova, Halep was erratic early, making 30 unforced errors in the first set.

"It's really tough to get any ball by her, but especially today, she was neutralizing so well". For good measure, remember, Stephens threw in a rut between the U.S. Open last September and her one-round Australian Open stay last January, but as everyone aimed to decipher that, and Stephens aimed to refrain from panic because that's who she is, Murray offers a plausible explanation.

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