Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Tactical change helps Halep reach French Open semis

Maria Sharapova French Open 2018 French Open -- Women's quarterfinals
Betsy Taylor | 07 June, 2018, 14:38

It was just her fifth loss in 25 Grand Slam quarter-finals. "My head won it".

"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.

Top seed Simona Halep fought back to triumph in a bruising French Open quarter-final against Germany's Angelique Kerber and stand two wins away from her first Grand Slam title. The tiebreak may have been one-sided, but the long rallies, Kerber's thunderous groundstrokes and Halep's gritty defense made it an entertaining first set that lasted for an hour.

Keys built a whopping 30-12 edge in winners and won 84 percent of her first-serve points.

"I rushed too much at the beginning", Halep told a news conference.

I don't give it too much attention. But, I mean, I think she made everyone wait a little bit'.

Muguruza was punishing the former world No.1's second serve and broke again at the start of the second set, although this time Sharapova hit straight back. In the decider, Halep came to the net more often to finish points and opened up a 4-1 lead.

American duo Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys will square off in the Roland Garros semi-finals on Thursday, in a rematch of last September's US Open final.

Keys has reached the quarter-finals in her last three consecutive Grand Slams as the 23-year-old continues to make strides ahead at the highest level.

"Coming into this part of the year, I was losing a few first-round matches, matches that I wanted to be winning, of course", Sharapova said.


Nadal, a 10-time champion at Roland Garros, had not ceded a set in Paris since 2015, when he was beaten in the quarterfinals by Novak Djokovic.

Sharapova may have vast experience on the big stage, but three double faults gifted Muguruza - who only played two games of her fourth-round clash before Lesia Tsurenko retired with an injury - a break in a nervy opening game from the Russian. Sharapova wrote in her autobiography.

Halep secured an early break in the second and did not relinquish it despite some fierce pressure from two-time major victor Kerber, with one remarkable get at the net even prompting applause from the German. The Spaniard won the French Open in 2016 and Wimbledon past year.

On whether Williams's late withdrawal in the previous round had derailed her momentum in the tournament she said: 'I didn't really know what to do.

"When you're facing somebody that also has an aggressive style of game I think it's about who takes the command, who takes the first opportunity", Muguruza said.

I want to side with Halep, but I can't bet against Muguruza in her current form. "She served a lot better than I did".

Kerber would become only the second German woman to reach the last four in Paris since Steffi Graf won back in 1999.

Muguruza pounced on an error-plagued Sharapova start to lead 4-0 with a double break.

Here's another key category in which Muguruza has the upper hand: 2-0 in major championships.

"I was focusing on winning every point, every game", Muguruza said.

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