Halep into third Roland Garros final

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Top seed Simona Halep reached her third French Open final yesterday with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over former champion Garbine Muguruza .
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Reuters

Simona Halep stretches for a backhand return to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza during their French Open semifinal at Roland Garros in Paris yesterday. The Romanian top seed won 6-1, 6-4. 

Top seed Simona Halep reached her third French Open final yesterday with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over former champion Garbine Muguruza while defending champion Rafael Nadal will take on Juan Martin del Potro in the men’s semifinals.

Halep, the runner-up in 2014 and 2017, will face either Sloane Stephens or Madison Keys, both Americans, in tomorrow’s final.

Her victory over third seed Muguruza also means she will retain the world No. 1 ranking next week. “I am really happy that I won the match, it was very important for my mind and I gave it all I had,” Halep said.

After racing through the first set, the Romanian saved three break points in a marathon ninth game of the second which lasted 13 minutes. “I think I played one of my best matches on clay against a great opponent,” added Halep, who will be appearing in her fourth final at the majors having also been beaten in Australia in January.

Halep has now defeated Muguruza in both their meetings on clay. However, her sights now turn to the final where she is desperate to erase the memories of last year’s horror show where she surrendered a set and a 3-0 lead to lose to Jelena Ostapenko.

“I have another chance to be in the final and hope to do better than last year.”

Halep raced into a 5-0 lead in the first set against misfiring 2016 champion Muguruza who had blasted Maria Sharapova off court on Wednesday for the loss of just three games.

The 24-year-old Spaniard stopped the rot in the sixth game before Halep quickly reasserted her authority.

A sweeping, running forehand into an open court gave her the set with Muguruza having managed just two winners.

It was the first set the Wimbledon champion had dropped at Roland Garros this year.

Muguruza settled down in the second set, moving 2-0 ahead before Halep leveled in the eighth game. That set the stage for the lengthy ninth game where Halep stood firm.

The spirit ebbed away from Muguruza, who converted just two of the eight break points she carved out, and a backhand which sailed long sealed her fate in the 10th game.

Meanwhile, Del Potro is back in the French Open semifinals for the first time since 2009 and will next face Nadal, the man with the most appearances at this stage of the claycourt Grand Slam.

The fifth-seeded Del Potro, whose career has been hampered by injuries, beat third-seeded Marin Cilic 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 yesterday. Ten-time champion Nadal completed a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over Del Potro’s Argentinian compatriot Diego Schwartzman. Both matches had been stopped by rain on Wednesday.

With his good run at Roland Garros, Del Potro is now guaranteed to return to the top four in the rankings for the first time in more than four years.

Del Potro fought back tears during his post-match interview and was loudly cheered by fans at Court Suzanne Lenglen.

“It’s tough to speak now,” the 2009 US Open champion said. “It has been a long time without good feelings. I had three surgeries on my left wrist. I was close to (quitting).”

Del Potro, who lost to Roger Federer in the 2009 French Open semifinals, hit 31 winners against Cilic, including 19 aces.

Del Potro has won only five of his 14 previous matches against Nadal. “I don’t know if I will win, but I will take a big love from you and that’s the most important for me,” he said.

Nadal was serving at 5-3, 30-15 after having dropped the first set when play was stopped on Wednesday. He came back on court in full swing and made Schwartzman run with a combination of deep groundstrokes and subtle drop shots. He was also able to raise his level when in danger, saving three break points in the eighth game of the third set with great shot-making, and four more in the final set.

Nadal is only the third male player in the Open era to reach 11 semis at a single Slam, alongside Federer and Jimmy Connors.


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