Stephens, Keys to reprise US Open final in French Open semifinals

Putintseva fought hard at the start of the second set, but Keys broke through to take a 4-3 lead with a rasping forehand return before confidently serving her way to the semi-finals. I knew I had to come out and keep swinging. "I will try my best", Haleptold the crowd at Court Phillipe Chatrier, "and hopefully I will be better than a year ago".

"I had a great showing at Fed Cup, which I was really happy with".

Cecchinato also became the first Italian man to reach a Grand Slam semi-finals since Corrado Barazzutti in 1978. "I hope that we have many more encounters against each other at this stage or even later in a Grand Slam".

For her part Keys said she had "lived and died every point" watching on TV as 10th seed Stephens nearly lost to Italy's Camila Giorgi in round three last week.

After the 13th-seeded Keys held for 5-4, Stephens served out victory at the second attempt. "I can be aggressive, still play my game".

However, fast forward a year and Stephens is a US Open champion, is about to reach at least the number four ranking in the world and on Saturday will take on Halep in the 2018 French Open final.

She said: "I have actually been told quite often that I'll never win or do well because I'm too nice of a person and I just don't have it. It's go time. Until then, we're the same girls as always".

Cecchinato struggled to comprehend his triumph, coming just two years after his career was nearly derailed when he became embroiled in match-fixing allegations. "And the right tactic was that I didn't miss anymore."- Halep, commenting on her strategies.

Stephens made her first grand slam semifinal in 2013, and Keys followed it up with her first in 2015.

"I'd love to be able to get a win", she added with a smile.

Unseeded Italian Marco Cecchinato won the fourth set after a marathon tiebreak to knock former champion Novak Djokovic out of Roland Garros.

"During treatment yesterday I had Sloane on and was living and dying on every point in the end. But before that, we are not going to be weird and awkward and make it, like, weird for each other", said Stephens, who was close to going out in the third round to Camila Giorgi before winning 8-6 in a deciding set.

"I think I worked really hard coming back and getting in the gym, and when I was chubby trying to get skinny and when I was out of shape getting back in shape", she said.

"I think Madison is so much more mature now than she's been in the past, I think she can handle situations like that".

Romanias Simona Halep clenches her fist after defeating Spains Garbine Muguruza during their semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, Thursday in Paris.

"We don't really have boundaries, " Keys said.

  • Stacy Allen