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

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But it took Muguruza quite a while to get going against Halep, who managed to keep sending ball after ball back over the net.

Furthermore, Halep's data on return yesterday was similarly strong, creating 17 break points on the usually strong Kerber serve across 15 return games, and it took a resolute performance by the German to take that first set to a breaker.

This will be the first match between the women since Stephens humiliated her close friend Keys in the final of last year's US Open.

After a timid start, Stephens found her rhythm and took control of the opening set by breaking in the third game with a forehand victor down the line.

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Her total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles marks the record for the most Grand Slam wins by a tennis player in the Open Era. In a statement released by the tournament, Sharapova wished Williams "a speedy recovery".

But the Romanian clawed her way back into the contest, winning three straight games as both players struggled to hold on to their serves in a monster opening set that swung one way and then the next.

Two-time major victor Kerber raced into a 4-0 lead in the first set before having to rely on a tiebreak to nudge her ahead. Rafa Nadal goes in search of his 11th French Open title but don't count out Novak Djokovic - and what about the in-form Alexander Zverev? Muguruza hopes to make her fourth career grand slam final and her second career French Open final.

Muguruza is yet to drop a set in the tournament but she is expecting a tougher test against last year's runner-up Halep on Thursday.

Williams withdrew shortly before the match with a pectoral muscle injury, a moment Sharapova said she found briefly startling but not destabilizing.

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Muguruza, who is 3-1 against the No. 1-seeded Halep in her career, has never squared off with her in a Grand Slam. As a effect of this, Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro's match has been moved back to Thursday.

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

French Open 2018 nearly presented the momentous occasion where the bitter rivals - Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova - former World Number ones, were about to clash in the 4th round. "I'm excited to play a good semi-finals and it's good that it's tomorrow".

After Halep's 6-1, 6-4 win, Muguruza said: "Her shots were very, very deep and very aggressive, constantly". Three previous times, the other player - be it Maria Sharapova, Jelena Ostapenko or Caroline Wozniacki - won that third set.

Of less logic but ample joy would be Nadal's semifinal opponent for Friday, Juan Martin del Potro, who famously nearly quit the game with belligerent wrists himself, but on Thursday found another crest with his first French Open semifinal berth in nine long, trying years, when he edged Marin Cilic, 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5. "So I didn't really know what to do. It's a nice opportunity, a big challenge, so I have just to feel happy after the match that I gave everything". In the first set, Halep had 30 unforced errors. She had 41 unforced errors today, which isn't going to win you too many two-set matches. "I think Serena hated me for being the skinny kid who beat her, against all odds, at Wimbledon", Sharapova wrote. I was a little bit upset of what I have played those points.

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