Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Muguruza thrashes Sharapova to reach semi-finals in Paris

Muguruza thrashes Sharapova to reach semi-finals in Paris

As great a mover and defender as Halep is, she could be left powerless if Muguruza is at her imposing best.

Stephens, who had never gone past the fourth round in Paris, will take on twice French Open runner-up and world number one Simona Halep of Romania in Saturday's final.

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.

The Romanian arrived in Paris as the top seed and the leading player on the WTA Tour this year, hoping this would be the moment she finally lands her first major.

In Thursday's other semi-final, US Open champion Stephens will take on fellow American and close friend Keys who she beat 6-3, 6-0 in the final in NY last September.

The 10th-seeded Stephens had never made it past the fourth round in Paris until now.

But Keys, who made 23 unforced errors in the first set, hit back hard and set up a break point at 3-2, only for Stephens to save it with a service return victor.

Muguruza eventually got on the board and started to settle into the second set, breaking serve and getting to within two games of a decider at 4-2.

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The friends hugged at the net, both smiling.

Sharapova, back at the claycourt slam for the first time since 2015 following a doping-ban, walked on court with two French Open crowns to Muguruza's one and a 3-0 head-to-head record against the reigning Wimbledon champion. She had her second shot at the title in 2017 but lost again to the Latvian revelation Jelena Ostapenko. The world No. 1 then closed out what I would consider the biggest win of her career. If she can channel that same degree of aplomb and expertise in the semi, Halep doesn't have much of a chance. She said: "I have more experience now".

Garbine Muguruza is coming off a straight sets win over Maria Sharapova that took 15 games to decide. I think I have to put a lot of things in perspective for the last, what, four, five weeks since the clay season.

It was Halep who made a blistering start on Court Philippe-Chatrier as she broke Spaniard Muguruza's serve four times to win the opening set 6-1.

Juan Martin del Potro is back in the French Open semifinals for the first time since 2009 and will next face Rafael Nadal, the man with the most appearances at this stage of the clay-court Grand Slam.

However, Halep proved the steadier player in the remainder of a tie which featured a total of 99 unforced errors and 12 breaks of serve.

But I also think Stephens has figured out the awkward dynamic of playing your good friend better than Keys has. You just have a feeling that the tennis gods are going to reward Halep with her first major, which is certainly overdo.

"I know that she's strong opponent". However, she stormed back to win the next two sets 6-3, 6-2 and get the win.

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