Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza set up semi-final; Nadal in limbo

Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza set up semi-final; Nadal in limbo

Top seed and world number one Simona Halep defeated Angelique Kerber 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 6-2 to reach her third French Open semi-final on Wednesday.

The last French woman to win a singles Grand Slam title was Marion Bartoli, when she won Wimbledon five years ago.

Halep, who has lost all three of her Grand Slam finals - including the Australian Open, to Caroline Wozniacki, in January - arrived in Paris on a hot streak, reaching at least the quarter-finals in her last nine claycourt tournaments and losing only one set on her way to facing Kerber in Paris.

Thoroughly and clinically outplayed by Muguruza in every respect, Sharapova looked uncomfortable and off-balance for most of her brief stint on court and had a particularly deflating second set in which she logged two winners to 15 unforced errors. "When I'm talking about progression or looking back at the weeks, I think there are a lot of good things, like the way my body has handled the long matches that I have played, the back-to-backs".

"After the first set I just stayed strong, I did not give up at all", said Halep. "I think I've developed a lot as a tennis player". But, I mean, I think she made everyone wait a little bit'.

But the dogged Romanian scrapped hard to turn the contest on its head to win 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-2 to advance to the final four.

Russia's Maria Sharapova in action during her quarter-final match against Spain's Garbine Muguruza at the 2018 French Open in Paris June 6, 2018.

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In the other men's quarterfinal, No 3 Marin Cilic and No 5 Juan Martin del Potro were at 5-5 in a first-set tiebreaker when the matchup of past US Open champions was stopped.

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.

Muguruza leads Halep 3-1 head-to-head, but this is their first grand slam match-up.

Sharapova was hardly at her best right from the start, double-faulting three times to get broken in the opening game. She went on to commit only 16 errors over the course of the next two, which was the difference in getting the win.

The only hope for the Russian was that her 2014 French Open quarter-final defeat of Muguruza, when she also got steamrollered in the first set before coming back, might play on her opponent's mind.

"No expectations, no pressure", Halep said as she looked ahead to the semifinals, perhaps trying to persuade herself as much as anyone. Halep is 3-2 in career grand slam semifinal matches. Some of those matches were very defining for me.

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