Halep tops Muguruza, eyes first major title

GETTYSerena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open

World number one Simona Halep is two wins away from her maiden grand slam singles title after defeating Angelique Kerber at the French Open to set up a semi-final against Garbine Muguruza.

Former number one Muguruza takes on current incumbent Halep on Thursday with the victor to be assured of the top ranking as well as a place in the Roland Garros final.

"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.

When the top-seeded Halep and No 3 Muguruza meet Thursday, their contrasting styles will match up with plenty at stake. "Like I said, you have to just take your opportunities when you get them, and it's just match by match, basically". Particularly against Stosur and Sharapova, the 24-year-old was terrific and although she disagrees, Muguruza feels like the favourite coming into the semi-finals based on her clinical displays so far.

Halep raced into a 5-0 lead in the first set against misfiring 2016 champion Muguruza who had blasted Maria Sharapova off court on Wednesday for the loss of just three games.

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"I think I played one of my best matches on clay against a great opponent", added Halep, who will be appearing in her fourth final at the majors having also been beaten in Australia in January. Halep has won 12 of her last 14 matches on clay court. Just like at the 2017 US Open, Stephens has embraced "go-time" tremendously well again at the French Open this year.

"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.

Earlier this year she lost to Caroline Wozniacki in a sweat-box Australian Open final. "But before that, we are not going to be weird and awkward and make it, like, weird for each other", said Stephens, who was close to going out in the third round to Camila Giorgi before winning 8-6 in a deciding set.

The women got their matches done before rain arrived at Roland Garros, leaving the men's quarterfinals suspended in progress. Muguruza won the French Open in 2016, then Wimbledon past year. I just want to go there and try to keep my tactic and keep my positive things every second. She's won 59.6% of service points, compared to 59.0% for Muguruza, and won 51.9% of return points, an edge of 4.3% over her rival today.

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