Stephens downs Keys again to reach French Open final

Stephens downs Keys again to reach French Open final

She also was coming off a lopsided victory in the quarterfinals a day earlier, overwhelming Sharapova 6-2, 6-1.

Halep defeated No. 3 Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the French Open final.

Muguruza had lost all three previous times she faced Sharapova, whose five Grand Slam titles include two at Roland Garros.

But Halep doesn't want to focus on that, even though it must give her added confidence.

The hold/break and head to head edges make Halep's status as a solid favourite correct, but until she lifts her first Grand Slam trophy, there will continue to be doubts about her ability in Slam finals.

While Halep's slump from a set and 3-0 up against Jelena Ostapenko at Roland Garros was in the full glare of the world's media, Stephens's own professional crisis was more private but just as devastating. Like past year, I feel Halep will make an excellent start to the match but when it gets tight, she might just falter.

French Open 2018 nearly presented the momentous occasion where the bitter rivals - Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova - former World Number ones, were about to clash in the 4th round.

A nervous start from the Spaniard was immediately pounced upon by Halep for a break in the opening game.

Simona Halep is two wins away from earning her first Grand Slam title. She is the better overall player than Stephens, and clay just widens the margin. That might very well have been a relief to 10-time champion Rafael Nadal, who was not at his best on Wednesday (Thursday NZT) and dropped a French Open set for the first time since 2015. Plus, now that she has a Grand Slam win at her back, you can not predict Halep to be the outright victor just yet.

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Halep then seized her chance, moving 0-40 ahead and then raising her arms in triumph as Muguruza blazed a backhand long.

That set the stage for the lengthy ninth game where Halep stood firm. In the victory, Muguruza won 72 percent of her first serve points and 46 percent of her second serve points.

"This is the furthest she has ever reached at Roland-Garros".

"Life came at me fast after the U.S. Open", said Stephens, whose late father, John, was the 1988 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year with the New England Patriots. In fact, both players barely won over 50% of service points in these seven head to head battles, so a return-orientated match could be on the cards on Saturday. I think I played very well.

Stephens' time may come where she enters a clash of this magnitude with nearly a right to the throne, but Halep has paid her dues in recent years and is carrying the kind of form one needs to finally win the French Open.

"The most important thing is that I have taken those opportunities".

Halep broke to love as Muguruza wilted in the next game, sealing her third final appearance at Roland Garros and ensuring she will stay as world number one after the tournament.

In all, Keys made 41 unforced errors, 30 more than Stephens. On the other hand, Stephens' toughest opponents has been Camila Giorgi, against whom Stephens needed an 8-6 win in the third.

She went to 5-2 on a double break and although Keys rallied, the statistics made brutal reading. Muguruza essentially got that round off, too: Her opponent, Lesia Tsurenko, quit with an injury after only two games.

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