Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Tactical change helps Halep reach French Open semis

Rafael Nadal celebrates winnning his fourth round match against Germany's Maximilian Marterer Charles Platiau Reuters Rafael Nadal celebrates winnning his fourth round match against Germany's Maximilian Marterer Charles Platiau Reuters
Sergio Cook | 07 June, 2018, 14:40

Garbine Muguruza thrashed Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-1 to reach the French Open semi-finals on Wednesday, June 6, condemning the Russian to her worst Grand Slam defeat in more than 6 years.

Simona Halep went from out-of-sorts to on-target against Angelique Kerber, scrambling to every ball and staying the course to erase an early deficit.

Current world number one Halep made the semi-finals for the 3rd time by battling past Germany's Angelique Kerber 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 6-2. I stayed focused. I never gave up.

"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. Halep saved two match points to win that one.

Muguruza's big strokes overwhelmed Maria Sharapova right from the start and their quarter-final was no contest at all in a 6-2, 6-1 one-way journey.

Muguruza, who is 3-1 against the No. 1-seeded Halep in her career, has never squared off with her in a Grand Slam. The victor earns a berth in the final at Roland Garros - plus the No 1 ranking that now belongs to Halep.

"She did a lot of things better than I did", Sharapova said in a press conference after the match.

Halep is still chasing her first Grand Slam title after several near-misses.

Halep has only dropped one set en route to the last eight, back at the start of the tournament when she lost the opening set of her first-round clash with American Alison Riske.

"To have had the victories that I have had, to have the results that I have, obviously moving a step in the right direction", said Sharapova who had made the last 8 in Madrid and semis in Rome in the run-up to Paris. She clearly still has business to attend to as she eyes a follow-up to her 2016 title on the Parisian clay.

Halep won their only meeting on clay, and she's playing well enough to lead the tournament in break points won (32) as well as first serves returned in play (111).

Nadal lost the opener 6-4 against 11th-seeded Diego Schwartzman but began to play better after a rain delay of just under an hour.

The two former Paris champions had not been inconvenienced by too much tennis over the past few days - Serena Williams pulled out of her match with Sharapova while Muguruza's opponent Lesia Tsurenko lasted just two games before retiring hurt.

She was quoted as saying: "The book was a lot about me.I think the book was 100 per cent hearsay".

Keys has reached the second week in nine of her last 11 Slams.

But this gesture towards her coach Darren Cahill was more than a celebratory pose, it was a sign that this was 'the new Simo'.

And it was Sharapova who looked the rustier, with two limp service games handing Muguruza an immediate 4-0 lead and consequently the first set.

By the time Sharapova recovered somewhat to play better it was too late, and Muguruza was into her impressive stride, with the court finally filling up post-lunch.

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