Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Feisty Halep to face chilled out Stephens in Paris

Feisty Halep to face chilled out Stephens in Paris

Sloane Stephens denied Madison Keys revenge for her U.S Open loss as Stephens cruised into the final of the French Open with a routine victory on Thursday. Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys meet in the second semi-final in a rematch of last year's US Open final.

It will be the third time Halep has contested the final at Roland Garros having lost the 2014 final to Maria Sharapova and last year's final to Jelena Ostapenko. Halep's only win over Muguruza came in the 2016 Stuttgart Open, the only meeting between these two on clay.

Simona Halep went from out-of-sorts to on-target against Angelique Kerber, scrambling to every ball and staying the course to erase an early deficit.

As great a mover and defender as Halep is, she could be left powerless if Muguruza is at her imposing best. She said: "I have more experience now".

The first set proved to be the undoing of Muguruza, as she failed to hold serve and allowed her opponent to open up a 5-0 lead before she hit back. Halep saved two match points to win that one.

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Despite not playing her best tennis, Halep was able to get past Muguruza in straight sets.

"I'm happy I get the chance to play another final in my favourite Grand Slam", Halep said.

The 24-year-old Spaniard stopped the rot in the sixth game before Halep quickly reasserted her authority.

"It's never easy playing someone from your country, let alone someone you actually, like, care about and you're friends with", Stephens said. It would be very unusual, I think, if I didn't write anything about her. "I feel calm. I feel that I have to enjoy it today, the victory, because it's a great match", she explained.

Sharapova, 31, was broken in the opening game of the second set which she immediately retrieved.

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Somehow, this plucky, reliable Grand Slam final mainstay, Halep, is about to oppose a player who lately had nine mostly clunky Grand Slams and then an 11-month hiatus, yet the latter will be the one with the major title already.

Three previous times, she played finals, including the 2017 French Open and the 2018 Australian Open.

As in NY nine months ago, it was a mistake-riddled performance from Keys, who committed 41 unforced errors to Stephens' 11.

"She didn't miss a lot", said Muguruza, who could have claimed the No. 1 ranking had she won the title in Paris. She's beaten tougher opponents to get to this final.

"The last time we played was a very long time ago, and a lot of things happened in between that.So I feel like I am a more developed player".

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By the end of the first set, the 5-time major victor had won just 8 points against the Muguruza serve and failed to carve out a single break point. 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.

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