French Open 2018: Simona Halep beats Garbine Muguruza to reach final

Grant SmithJun 09, 2018

She was beaten by Sharapova in three sets in the 2014 final here and past year had victory in sights, only to lose tearfully to Latvian firebrand Jelena Ostapenko. However, for the first time, Stephens wobbled slightly, losing her serve when serving for victory, and the pressure was back on as Keys held for 5-4; however, there was no mistake the second time around, with the tenth seed safely reaching the final.

Simona Halep (ROU) celebrates match point during her match against Garbine Muguruza (ESP) on day 12 of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros.

Like Halep, Stephens is an incredibly talented defensive player, and she kept stretching points until Keys would err. She led Jelena Ostapenko by a set and 3-0 in last year's final at Roland Garros, but then fell apart and eventually lost to the unseeded Latvian in her second French Open final.

But she has not dropped a set in this year's tournament and dominated Sharapova with booming groundstrokes and superb returning that earned six breaks. Stephens closed in on her second Grand Slam title by beating pal Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday in a rematch of the U.S. Open final won by Stephens.

"Well, I think it would be unusual for me not to include someone that I have competed against for so many years", Sharapova said on Wednesday.

That match was also won, comprehensively, by Stephens for her first grand slam crown.

Sharapova takes out frustration of Muguruza defeat by blasting Serena over comments on her autobiography, says her book is honest.

"I started in the first set not matching her level", said Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champion.

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

She has acknowledged having trouble handling her nerves, which is part of why she was so proud about the way she overcame Kerber, a two-time major champion and former No 1.

"I'm happy that I can have another chance".

-Tennis Channel Plus features up to 10 courts of live action from Roland Garros beginning Sunday, May 27 at 5:00am ET.

But it is not remaining world number one that Halep came to the French capital for. The US Open champ appeared ready to put it away at 5-2 but Keys once again battled back, breaking Stephens and then closing to 5-4.

"It's always hard playing someone from your country and such a good friend, so I was really pleased to be able to get through that", Stephens said. Halep saved two match points to win that one.

The tall Muguruza had not dropped a set before facing Halep and thrashed two Grand Slam champions in Sam Stosur and Maria Sharapova for the loss of five games en route to the last four. Halep of the spring of 2018 is smiling more than ever, she uses the word "relaxed" at every opportunity and more importantly she won't budge from the moment. Halep's first career Grand Slam feels like an inevitability. Halep has become more aggressive as the tournament has progressed, and she will try to be more proactive with her positioning and her shot selection. "If I do that, I will be okay after the match, no matter the result".

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