Stephens denies Keys revenge, reaches French Open final

Ruben Holloway
June 8, 2018

Top seed Simona Halep fought back to triumph in a bruising French Open quarter-final against Germany's Angelique Kerber and stand two wins away from her first Grand Slam title.

Muguruza is to my mind the slight favourite given her thumping 6-2, 6-1 win over Maria Sharapova yesterday, and greater pedigree at the majors.

And now that Stephens has taken her lightning 2017 U.S. Open title and piled a French Open final berth atop it after her 6-4, 6-4 passage through dear friend Madison Keys on Thursday, there's this question: Where did she spend last French Open, anyway?

Simona Halep is the fourth player in the Open Era to play a Grand Slam final having previously lost three. She lost to Jelena Ostapenko in 2017.

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It is the 11th time the 32-year-old Spaniard has reached the French Open last four, becoming only the third man in history to achieve the feat at a Grand Slam tournament, after Jimmy Connors at the US Open and Roger Federer at Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

This is the first all-American French Open semi-final since 2002, when Serena Williams defeated Jennifer Capriati en route to the title. "It was very nice to play like that", a beaming Halep, who trailed Muguruza 1-3 in head-to-head clashes, said.

Halep had to come back from a break of serve down in the second set and fend off three break points at 4-4 before finally closing out the victory, which guaranteed that she will remain No. 1 in the rankings after this tournament. "Every day I play better and that makes me happy". Halep saved two match points to win that one.

Two-time major victor Kerber raced into a 4-0 lead in the first set before having to rely on a tiebreak to nudge her ahead.

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Kerber eventually prevailed in a tiebreak, but Halep came out all guns blazing in the second, firing baseline bullets at her opponent, who tried to cling on against the onslaught. "I played again one of my best matches on clay". "In tennis, you never know, so I will stay chill". "I feel calm. I feel that I have to enjoy this victory because it's a great match". Halep held serve to take a 5-4 lead that gave her breathing room and a chance to close things out in the next game.

In short, the market has been convinced that Halep is the better player throughout this event, but yet has ditched her for this particular match-up, and it's hard to understand why.

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. "I missed a lot at the beginning of the match".

She went to 5-2 on a double break and although Keys rallied, the statistics made a brutal reading. "I have two more days until I will play the final". Over the last two sets, Halep made 16 unforced errors, half as many as Kerber, who was treated for a blister on her left foot early in the third.

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