Simona Halep beats Muguruza at French Open to reach 4th Slam final

Maria Sharapova

Simona Halep reached a third French Open final and retained top spot in the rankings with a commanding straight-sets win over Garbine Muguruza.

Muguruza will face world No.1 Simona Halep, who got the better of Angelique Kerber over three sets.

Stephens continued to dominate and broke in the first and seventh games of the second set to put herself in a position to serve for the match.

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

It was not enough, however, as Wimbledon champion Muguruza bulldozed her way through the rest of the set to secure her place in the semi-finals. Stephens beat a mistake-prone Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday in the first all-American semifinal at Roland Garros since 2002.

Halep's win knocked Caroline Wozniacki out of the race to be number one in next week's rankings, and set up a winner-takes-all match against Spain's Muguruza in Thursday's semi-final.

That means Saturday's final at the French Open will be Halep's third title match in the past five Grand Slam tournaments.

It was just her 5th loss in 25 Grand Slam quarter-finals.

She has acknowledged having trouble handling her nerves, which is part of why she was so proud about the way she overcame Kerber, a two-time major champion and former No 1.

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A win at the Miami Open in April seemed to turn things around, but she followed that by failing to advance past the third round in each of her next four tournaments.

"I think there are a lot of good things like the way my body has handled the long matches that I have played, the back-to-backs".

Keys briefly rallied to pull one break back, but Stephens did not waste her second opportunity, sealing victory on her first match point with a glorious backhand victor down the line.

"I mean, it's not that important, because it's constantly this thing going on, you know. since a year ago", she said after a crushing 6-2, 6-1 last-eight victory over Maria Sharapova in Paris.

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

Kerber again failed to serve out the set after breaking back for 6-5 as Halep forced a breaker. "Every day I play better and that makes me happy". I knew I needed to keep swinging no matter what, even if it was very close, so that's what I did. "And then when we get on the court, it's time to compete. And when I got my opportunity at 4-3 to break, I was like, It's go time", Stephens explained.

"I lost three times until now and no one died", Halep said, "so it will be OK".

That match was also won, comprehensively, by Stephens for her first grand slam crown.

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