French Open 2018: Muguruza dumps Sharapova to reach semis

GETTYSerena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open

Muguruza had thrashed Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals but Halep was a different proposition entirely, and it seemed she knew it.

Now third in the WTA leaderboard behind Halep and Caroline Wozniacki, Muguruza will rise above them both to sit atop of the rankings with a win on Thursday.

The world number one will face US Open champion Sloane Stephens in Saturday's final on Philippe-Chatrier. She double-faulted three times in the opening game, part of her 27 unforced errors. In the victory, Halep won 61 percent of her first serve points and 53 percent of her second serve points. I just didn't give up.

Muguruza ratcheted up the intensity in the second set and broke in the third game when a powerful return forced an error, only for Halep to fight her way back to level at 4-4.

She had never made it past the fourth round on the red clay of Paris until now.

That set the stage for the lengthy ninth game where Halep stood firm. When the opportunity arises, whether it is her section of the draw or in a match, the 25-year-old has been swinging away without being all that fazed by it.For Madison Keys "opportunity" and the "big moment" can be a trickier customer. "I obviously lost to Sloane at the US Open, but, you know, I feel like on clay it's a little bit of a different matchup", Keys previewed the semi-finals against her good friend.If Keys is able to shake off any nerves early, the encounter between her and Stephens should be a lot closer than in the US Open final but Stephens' big-match moxie can not be underestimated - neither today or possibly on Saturday.

The American pair have contrasting styles, with Stephens' game based on her athleticism and ability to get many balls back, while also turning defence into offence fairly quickly.

There was a stretch after winning the U.S. Open that Stephens did not manage to do that.

"I am very pleased to be in another final in Paris", said Muguruza who has yet to drop a set in the tournament and claimed her first win over Sharapova in 4 meetings.

"I have another chance to be in the final and hope to do better than a year ago".

She pointed her right index finger at her temple when she eventually completed a 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2 comeback. At the Miami Open in March, she won the title, beating four major champions in a row.

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

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