Halep battles past Muguruza to reach French Open 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.

She endured an eight-match losing streak after leaving NY, going 0-6 for the rest of 2017 and then 0-2 to begin 2018, including a first-round loss at the Australian Open. Had Muguruza won, she would have moved up to No. 1 when the new rankings come out next week.

Maria Sharapova left the French Open without much of a fight, but had enough left in the tank to deliver a parting shot at Serena Williams.

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.

The 2012 and 2014 Paris champion, who missed the 2016 tournament because of a doping ban and a year ago when she was refused a wild card, was broken six times, committed 27 unforced errors and won just five points on her own serve in the second set.

I want to side with Halep, but I can't bet against Muguruza in her current form.

After racing through the first set, Halep saved three break points in a marathon ninth game of the second which lasted 13 minutes. "Like I said, you have to just take your opportunities when you get them, and it's just match by match, basically".

Keys made it to the semis with a straight-sets win over Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva while reigning US Open champion Stephens eased past Russia's Daria Kasatkina.

Suffice to say that the 26-year old would be well advised to click into gear properly from the start in the semi-finals because Muguruza has been looking in fantastic shape throughout the entire fortnight in Paris - even if her results leading up to Paris, such as her first-round loss to Daria Gavrilova in Rome, haven't been confidence inspiring. In the victory, Halep won 61 percent of her first serve points and 53 percent of her second serve points.

In Thursday's other semi-final, US Open champion Sloane Stephens will take on fellow American Madison Keys in a repeat of the 2017 final at Flushing Meadows. Her return has been flawless most of this tournament and if Halep is going to make a high number of unforced errors again, she stands no chance. "And she was hitting so many deep, heavy balls, that I really felt like I was having to go for a lot", said Keys, who is now 0-3 against Stephens. Muguruza, who won the French Open in 2016 but didn't make it out of sectionals previous year, is continuing a fantastic run of tennis at Roland-Garros.

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