French Open 2018: Muguruza dumps Sharapova to reach semis

Arnold Nichols
June 8, 2018

Simona Halep overcame 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-4 to reach the French Open final with a battling display at Roland Garros.

"It will be another great opportunity on Saturday and I'm really looking forward to it". I will play my game against her, as I did a year ago. "Merci Paris, je t'aime".

"I have just to stay strong, to try to make her uncomfortable on court and to try to play my game", Halep said. I was really pleased. Halep started slowly, spraying shots wide as she lost the first four games of the match against the No. 12 seed who hit her early groundstrokes with lethal accuracy.

The Romanian also came up one victory shy of a major championship at the Australian Open in January, beaten there by Caroline Wozniacki. In the victory, Halep won 61 percent of her first serve points and 53 percent of her second serve points. She is already ranked No. 1 in the world, but a French Open title would put a cherry on top of her career.

On Wednesday, Halep looked anything but the top seed, slipping 4-0 down in the first set before she rallied to defeat Kerber, a two-time major victor who had exited in the first round in Paris in the last two years.

"I'm happy", she said, "that I can have another chance".

"I hadn't had a withdrawal in - I don't know how long. maybe like six years or something", Sharapova said.

Muguruza, a two-time major champion, entered the semifinals having not lost a set in the tournament.

Unranked after serving a 15-month doping suspension that ended in the spring of 2017, Sharapova received much-debated wild cards to several WTA events but not Roland Garros, her first major since returning and the only venue where she has won two Grand Slam championships.

Muguruza's opponent Lesia Tsurenko lasted just two games before retiring hurt. She's also just one percentage point behind Serena Williams in the tournament for highest percentage of first-serve points won (78-77 percent), and her winners to unforced errors differential of plus-3 is best among the semifinalists.

Sharapova, who missed the 2016 tournament because of a doping ban and previous year after she was refused a wild card, was broken 6 times, committed 27 unforced errors and won just 5 points on her own serve in the second set.

I can only conclude that the market has grossly over-reacted to seeing Muguruza's beating of Sharapova yesterday afternoon, and made her a false favourite for this clash - Halep at [2.10] is today's recommendation.

The second set was more of a test for Halep, who was ahead by a set and 3-0 before falling apart against Ostapenko a year ago.

Slowly the normally aggressive baseliner clawed her way back into the contest, winning three straight games as both players struggled to hold serve in a marathon opening set. But she failed to convert any of those, and Halep held there, before breaking at love to end it.

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