French Open 2018: Garbine Muguruza vs Simona Halep,


Halep, of course, came agonisingly close to taking her first Slam in Paris past year, only to fall short at the hands of an electrifying Jelena Ostapenko, who stormed to the Roland Garros title in fascinating fashion.

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American Sloane Stephens, the 10th seed, now stands between Halep and a first grand slam title. In the victory, Halep won 61 percent of her first serve points and 53 percent of her second serve points.

The top seed will face Sloane Stephens or Madison Keys in the final as she eyes an elusive first major in Paris.

Like Halep, Stephens is an incredibly talented defensive player, and she kept stretching points Thursday until Keys would err.

Stephens has won both head-to-head encounters, including the Grand Slam final debut for each at NY in September.

Halep is aware she can not afford another poor start on Thursday against 24-year-old Muguruza who has been tested just once in Paris and that was in the first round where fellow former victor Svetlana Kuznetsova pushed her to a tiebreak in the first set. She's a great player.

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It's ladies singles semi-final day today, and with the tournament wide open, our tennis columnist, Dan Weston, returns to preview the action.

"I played again one of my best matches on clay", Halep said after coming back from a break down in the second set against Muguruza.

She is one of two semi-finalists - alongside Garbine Muguruza - who are yet to drop a set this fortnight in Paris.

Navigating her way through a tricky draw full of former Roland Garros champions such as Svetlana Kuznetsova (first round), Samantha Stosur (third round) and Maria Sharapova (quarter-finals), the 2016 champion has been looking razor-sharp. "If I do that, I will be OK after the match, no matter the result".

"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". When we get on the court, it's time to compete.

"So tomorrow is going to be a big challenge for me". That includes the French Open in 2014 and 2017, and the Australian Open in January. I tried to do too much.

Stephens, who is now into the semi-finals of a major for the third time, leads Keys 2-0 in head-to-heads but they have never met on clay. Serena Williams is a three-time French Open champion, Jennifer Capriati won in 2001, and the legendary Chris Evert retired with a 94.5% winning record on clay, triumphing seven times at Roland Garros.