Halep tops Muguruza, eyes first major title
- Author: Stacy Allen Jun 08, 2018,
Jun 08, 2018, 4:30
She was in Chicago with coach Kamau Murray, working her way back from a foot injury that required surgery and sidelined her for 11 months.
Later, at Court Philippe Chatrier, Stephens was hardly troubled while beating No. 14 Daria Kasatkina of Russian Federation 6-3, 6-1 in a mere 70 minutes. Getting ready for grass. It's different match, different year.
The times are good now.
World number one Halep overcame 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-4 in the first semi-final earlier on Thursday at Roland Garros. Halep managed to win despite 46 unforced errors and being broken four times.
Maria Sharapova questioned the reliability of the top-100 highest-paid athletes' list by Forbes.
Halep responded well to going behind.
After a timid start, Stephens found her rhythm and took control of the opening set by breaking in the third game with a forehand victor down the line.
The spirit ebbed away from Muguruza, who converted just two of the eight break points she carved out, and a backhand which sailed long sealed her fate in the 10th game.
It was 5-0 by the time Muguruza eventually claimed a game.
While the Romanian sometimes has trouble with so much on the line, Stephens has been flawless in title matches on the WTA tour, going 6-0. I like clay. I mean, the court suits my game pretty well.
"I'm going to have to be the one to try to open up the court and go for my shots". I'm not trying to break a record.
All three were tight, three-set defeats, none more painful than her slow fade against the inexperienced Ostapenko in Paris previous year, where she led, 6-4, 3-0, with a point to go up, 4-0, before Ostapenko rallied to take the trophy instead. I think there's a difference between being intense and wanting it and fighting and just not being nice, so that's something that I have always stayed true to. Obviously, I grew up in the States where we don't really have red clay.
"When you make it out of that", Murray said, "you build a little bit of confidence".
"I think I played one of my best matches on clay against a great opponent", added Halep, who will be appearing in her fourth final at the majors having also been beaten in Australia in January. Like Sharapova, Halep was erratic early, making 30 unforced errors in the first set. With her game being big enough to dominate proceedings against many players, it can sometimes turn into a double-edged sword if Keys finds herself struggling with nerves. She was prior to the draw and it took a gift draw for Elina Svitolina - which the Ukrainian was unable to exploit - for her to lose this status for the opening two rounds.
A rare misplaced groundstroke from Halep gave third seed Muguruza a break to get on the board at 5-1, but Halep put away another forehand victor to take a one-sided opening set.
Stephens can join Serena Williams and Jennifer Capriati as the only American women to win a French Open title since 1987. Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion, was world number one for four weeks from September 11 to October 8 a year ago. Particularly against Stosur and Sharapova, the 24-year-old was terrific and although she disagrees, Muguruza feels like the favourite coming into the semi-finals based on her clinical displays so far.
She regrouped and got headed back in the right direction.
Keys made it to the semis with a straight-sets win over Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva while reigning US Open champion Stephens eased past Russia's Daria Kasatkina.
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