Stephens downs Keys again to reach French Open final

Stephens downs Keys again to reach French Open final

Halep also seems to be mentally strong, not allowing mistakes to leak into her game and pointing to her head after big points, knowing she has to stay focused. Halep turned around and raised her arms, looking relieved as much as pleased.

Garbine Muguruza's big strokes overwhelmed Maria Sharapova right from the start.

After losing her first three major finals, Halep defeated Sloane Stephens, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, on Saturday to win the French Open and join the ranks of top players who persevered before they gained a Grand Slam singles title.

The No. 3-seeded Muguruza had lost all three previous meetings against Sharapova, who won two of her five Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros.

After New York, she lost her next eight matches, a run encompassing the Asian swing of late 2017 and the early exchanges of 2018, including a demoralising first round exit at the Australian Open.

Against Keys on Friday, Stephens took full advantage of her opponent's ill discipline.

Halep, meanwhile, still looked fresh, perhaps benefiting from having gone to three sets in all of her Grand Slam final appearances, and she quickly saw out the match for the championship. Her manager, Virginia Ruzici, won the French Open 40 years ago.

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"So we will see what is going to happen tomorrow, but I just want to be smiling on court".

Eventually, Halep had dropped that racket, climbed the stands to hug and cry with her coach, Darren Cahill, and had said to the crowd that she told herself at 3-6, 0-2, "Okay, everything is gone".

But in the contest of two of the best movers in tennis, Halep had to work hard for her first hold, prevailing in a 25-shot rally for 1-1. "But, yeah, I think she made everyone wait a little bit".

Muguruza leads Halep 3-1 head-to-head, but this is their first Grand Slam matchup. "I think that we'll just have to go out and compete. I just have to start to relax and enjoy the match"'. She made the last-16 in Madrid and Rome and now has a chance to make the French Open final. "So maybe I will have enough power to win it". "It's very hard. I think more when I do play Madi, it's just - on the court it's very competitive. Both of us will be ready to give everything we have", she said.

Muguruza, a two-time major champion who was coming off a lopsided victory against Sharapova, took quite a while to get going against Halep, who managed to keep sending ball after ball back over the net.

Until Saturday, Stephens was 6-0, including a rout of Madison Keys, her American compatriot and friend, in last year's U.S. Open final, where Stephens capped a remarkably speedy comeback from a foot operation.

The second set was tighter as the players traded breaks until Halep finally got back on level terms when Stephens hit a backhand wide on set point.

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