January 23, 2019

Simona Halep, Sloane Stephens to meet in women's final

08 June 2018, 04:30 | Anna Jefferson

Maria Sharapova is a value underdog against Garbine Muguruza today

Russian tennis player Maria Sharapova

In two rain-interrupted men's quarterfinals that were suspended on Wednesday evening, No. 1 Rafael Nadal completed a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 comeback over 11th-seeded Diego Schwartzman, and No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro defeated No. 3 Marin Cilic 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.

A foot injury - and then surgery - had put her career on ice for 10 months and her ranking had nosedived to 323 in the world.

Muguruza, considered the slight favourite by many, handed her serve over in the first game with a double fault on break point and Halep raced 5-0 ahead in the opening set.

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.

The world number one will face US Open champion Sloane Stephens in Saturday's final on Philippe-Chatrier.

Halep is a three-time Grand Slam runner-up, including in Paris in 2014 and previous year; Kerber is a two-time major champ elsewhere; Muguruza won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017; and Sharapova owns five Grand Slam titles, including at Roland Garros in 2012 and 2014.

Now she stands between Halep and her first Grand Slam trophy.

With Serena Williams still working her way back after giving birth past year and withdrawing from the French Open in the fourth round due to a pectoral injury, Stephens is emerging as the face of women's tennis in the United States. She's a great player.

A win on Thursday would move Stephens to No. 4 in the rankings.

She also failed to win a single service game in the opener. She lost the title match at the Australian Open in January.

"I have just to stay strong, to try to make her uncomfortable on court", Halep said, "and to try to play my game".

Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys.

Muguruza's big strokes overwhelmed Maria Sharapova right from the start and their quarter-final was no contest at all in a 6-2, 6-1 one-way journey. Some of those matches were very defining for me.

"And now it's just - it's good to be able to play all the time for that, but every week there is a new chance, there is a new thing". "And then when we get on the court, it's time to compete". Like, I have just slowly kind of gained momentum. "So I think that's why I won today", Halep said. Yes, Muguruza has won three of their four head to head meetings, but Halep has won their only clay clash, so the head to head series is pretty irrelevant to this match-up.

Muguruza improved in the early stages of the second set, holding serve for the first time and backing it up with a break on her way to a 3-1 lead.

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