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Frisco Kid Looks At The Ladies In Paris Tennis • Halep-Muguruza And Keys-Stephens Battles To Decide French Open | Roland Garros Title

The court is covered as Rafael Nadal of Spain playing Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during their men’s quarter final match is interrupted due to rain during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 06 June 2018. EPA-EFE/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO



Intriguing Halep-Muguruza and Keys-Stephens battles to decide French Open women’s finalists


After all the hard work, intense clay-court lead-up events, tricky early rounds, and the demands of the business end of a major, there are four women left standing with a shot at the French Open title, as the pressure-packed semifinal round will decide who will battle for the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen on Saturday. Four players who have displayed their impressive clay-court games at just the right time in Paris are left standing as top seed Simona Halep will face off against 2016 champion Garbiñe Muguruza while American compatriots and best friends Madison Keys and defending US Open champion Sloane Stephens will go head-to-head in a rematch of their New York final last year.


Here are the biggest things to look for in two fascinating women’s semifinals from Paris:


Simona Halep vs. Garbiñe Muguruza

Two of the best clay-court players of the last three years will do battle on the grandest of dirt stages Thursday on Court Philippe Chatrier, with top-seeded Halep looking to put herself in a fourth major final, hoping it’s fourth time lucky as she seeks a maiden major crown, facing the queen of Paris in 2016, Garbiñe Muguruza, who is seeking her third Grand Slam trophy.


Garbine Muguruza of Spain plays Maria Sharapova of Russia during their women’s quarter final match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 06 June 2018. EPA-EFE/CAROLINE BLUMBERG

This matchup will be all about contrasts as Halep will look to take her incredibly solid defense and baseline game up against the big-hitting power of Muguruza, a player who will look to dictate play from the center of the court. The one and third seeds have both taken very different routes to get to the last four stage, with Halep grinding out three-set wins on numerous occasions, employing her improved mental strength, while Muguruza has been all business at Roland Garros, laying down statement victories one after another in dominant performances over established champions such as Maria Sharapova and Samantha Stosur.


There will be additional stakes on the line tomorrow in the French capital as two of the game’s elite to battle not just for a spot in the French Open final, but also the world number one ranking, a title the Romanian currently holds. Coincidentally, their last meeting had the top spot on the line for Halep, but it will be a bad omen for the three-time major finalist as she managed to take just one game in another Muguruza beatdown in the Cincinnati final last year.


Their high-stakes battle on the red clay of Paris shouldn’t be that one-sided this time around, but no one has played better at Roland Garros this fortnight than Muguruza, and she’ll keep that going tomorrow against Halep.

Prediction: Muguruza in three sets


Madison Keys vs. Sloane Stephens

Madison Keys of the USA plays Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan during their women’s quarter final match during the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris, France, 05 June 2018. EPA-EFE/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO

While the first semifinal features two women many expected to be in the last four at Roland Garros, countrywomen Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens were considered surprises to be meeting in a major semifinal, on clay, given no two Americans had faced off in a French Open semifinal since 2001. Keys and Stephens however are no strangers to making history, the two talented stars from the States faced off against each other last year in the final at the US Open.


While Stephens handled the occasion much better than her 23 year-old counterpart, the two best friends have a unique dynamic on tour, one that makes any match they play interesting. Keys, hardly a natural clay-courter, has far exceeded expectations in Paris, striking the perfect balance between patience and her potent power game, leading to a straightforward run through the Roland Garros draw, having yet to drop a set.


Somehow Stephens has been even more impressive, showing the nearly unstoppable form that took her to titles on the hardcourts of New York and Miami in the last 12 months, transferring that game to the courts of Roland Garros, where she had previously made four straight fourth rounds. But as a major champion, the tenth seed had higher aspirations, reaching her first semifinal in Paris with the incredible blend of raw power and natural athleticism that is her game. Keys and Stephens have both been mightily impressive through their marches through the Roland Garros draws, but when Stephens’ game is at full strength, there’s very few in the world who can come close to stopping it.

Prediction: Stephens in straight sets

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