Saturday, 23 June, 2018

Muguruza brushes off Sharapova to reach French Open semi-final

Maria Sharapova Garbine Muguruza vs. Simona Halep 2018 French Open Tennis Pick, Preview, Odds, Prediction
Rita Gibson | 09 June, 2018, 18:22

Simona Halep will attempt to break her Grand Slam final duck when she faces Sloane Stephens in the 2018 French Open women's decider on Saturday.

"I think it would be odd for me not to include someone that I have competed against for so many years", said the 31-year-old.

But the 26-year-old Romanian battled back to take a see-saw second set against the US Open champion.

Halep defeated No. 3 Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the French Open final.

The stakes are high as Halep seeks to finally end her search for a major title at Roland-Garros, with a defiant Stephens all that stands between her and a maiden Grand Slam.

- When she was a teenager, Halep underwent breast reduction surgery for personal comfort and to ease her movement around the court.

Stephens has been so impressive in Paris, dropping just one set on the way to the final, that it's hard to believe she went through a horror run of results not too long ago.

There, Halep will be searching for a first Roland Garros win after previously losing there in 2014 and 2017.

Thoroughly and clinically outplayed by Muguruza in every respect, Sharapova looked uncomfortable and off-balance for most of her brief stint on court and had a particularly deflating second set in which she logged two winners to 15 unforced errors. It also was a rematch of the U.S. Open final won by Stephens last September. "And now she says it", said 1978 French Open champion Virginia Ruzici, who is Halep's manager and the only woman from Romania to collect a major title. "But I have another chance in the final and hope to do better than previous year". And I think we played many matches.

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"It's really tough to get any ball by her, but especially today, she was neutralizing so well".

"She deals much better with pressure".

Williams withdrew from the single's draw just hours before her quarter-final tie against Maria Sharapova due to a pectoral injury.

The abrupt walkover leapfrogged Sharapova onto center court against Muguruza, who became a double Grand Slam event champion (2016 French Open, 2017 Wimbledon) during Sharapova's absence. Halep is looking for her first career Major title. I'm more relaxed about this situation", Halep said, sounding convinced of her words as they hung in the air, until she added this: "But you never know.

She had never made it past the fourth round on the red clay of Paris until now. Halep does not possess the power of Keys, and Stephens has shown she is one of the best movers in the game.

Stephens hasn't dropped a set since. "I believe that I have the game to win the match".

"She said it had some sort of medical objective as well".

But ultimately she paid the price of 41 unforced errors as Stephens served out the match at the second time of asking, sealing victory with a backhand down the line.

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