Thursday, June 7, 2018

Down to two—Halep and Stephens to face off in French Open final

The anticipated thriller—or at least drawn-out—semifinal contest between world number 1 Simona Halep and former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza turned out to be neither thrilling (except for a while in the second set, when the Romanian saved three break points), nor drawn out. Halep totally domimated Muguruza in the first set. Muguruza made more of an inroad in the second, but the world number 1 appeared determined to prevent any possibility of third-set tension.

Halep was strong in her returns to the powerful Spaniard, she hit relentlessly to Muguruza's forehand, and she was more than proficient at the net. She was also able to break Muguruza six times. Her 6-1, 6-4 victory not only puts her into her third French Open final, it also assures that she will retain her number 1 ranking.

Her opponent will be 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, who defeated her U.S. Open final opponent, Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4. Keys, for all her big serving and forehand dazzle, made unforced errors all over the place—41 in all.

Halep and Keys have played each other seven times, and Halep won five of those matches, including the last four that they played. She also won their only two clay court matches.

Here are the players’ paths to the final:

round 1–def. Alison Riske
round 2–def. Taylor Townsend
round 3–def. Andrea Petkovic
round of 16–def. Elise Mertens (16)
quarterfinals—def. Angelique Kerber (12)
semifinals—def. Garbine Muguruza (3)

round 1–def. Arantxa Rus
round 2–def. Magdalena Frech
round 3–def.Camila Giorgi
round of 16–def. Anett Kontaveit (16)
quarterfinals—def. Daria Kasatkina (14)
semifinals—def. Madison Keys (13)

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