Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

Garbiñe Muguruza sends Maria Sharapova crashing out of French Open

Garbiñe Muguruza sends Maria Sharapova crashing out of French Open

World number one Simona Halep fought back from a set down to beat Angelique Kerber 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-2 and move into the French Open semi-finals.

The victor will face either Garbine Muguruza or top-seeded Simona Halep in the final.

The former world number one drilled a backhand victor down the line to hold again in the next game, the 28th seed clenching her fist as she walked to the chair. First, at Court Suzanne Lenglen, the 13th-seeded Keys remained focused during a 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory over 98th-ranked Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, never wavering when she fell behind in the opening set or when her volatile opponent could have become a distraction.

Halep secured an early break in the second and did not relinquish it despite some fierce pressure from two-time major victor Kerber, with one remarkable get at the net even prompting applause from the German.

'I think it would be odd for me not to include someone that I have competed against for so many years, ' she said.

Firstly, Halep has been the tournament favourite for virtually the entire event.

"I rushed too much at the beginning", Halep told a news conference. Off the baseline, Stephens will bait Keys to go for too much, using her speed and counter-punching ability to shrink the court. "It's been a little bit longer for me to get used to it, but I feel like every year I get more comfortable".

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An anti-climactic match ended predictably, with a Sharapova backhand nestling in the net - her 27th unforced error. Ironically, perhaps, the only one missing is the Slam everyone expects her to someday win: Wimbledon. I just went and searched for her in the training room. This will be the first match between the women since Stephens humiliated her close friend Keys in the final of last year's US Open.

"I think it was still kind of a confusion in the head up until about a week ago (smiling)".

The American pair have contrasting styles, with Stephens' game based on her athleticism and ability to get many balls back, while also turning defence into offence fairly quickly. As she told the press after her quarterfinal win, "There were times when I had to go back and hit a higher ball, where maybe before I would have tried to hit a line-drive victor". "(It) shows me that I have enough patience, I have enough power inside to stay calm", Halep said. "So I think that's why I won today", she told the media.

But Stephens has yet to lose a set to Keys in their two previous meetings and Keys has come through a very open quarter of the draw that was supposed to be anchored by No.4 Elina Svitolina.

Now one will get to play in her second major title match.

Such impressive data from this match has led to Muguruza being chalked up as a [1.89] favourite over Halep, and I want to discuss why I think this is an utterly freakish line.

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