Simona Halep wins grueling duel to reach French Open semis

Simona Halep wins grueling duel to reach French Open semis

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.

Halep went from out-of-sorts to on-target against Kerber, scrambling to every ball and staying the course to erase an early deficit. And the last time they faced off, Stephens won 6-3, 6-0 over her rattled younger opponent to win the US Open.

"I never gave up".

"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.

Halep completed the 30th win over a German opponent and remained unbeaten in quarter-finals matches here at Roland Garros.

Halep's win knocked Caroline Wozniacki out of the race to be number one in next week's rankings, and set up a winner-takes-all match against Spain's Muguruza in Thursday's semi-final.

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Sharapova, back at the claycourt slam for the first time since 2015 following a doping-ban, walked on court with two French Open crowns to Muguruza's one and a 3-0 head-to-head record against the reigning Wimbledon champion.

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 don't feel I'm favorite for this match, because she's played better than I have this year", Muguruza said of her next match against Halep. Halep managed to win despite 46 unforced errors and being broken four times.

"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.

Sharapova didn't need to play a point in the fourth round, because Serena Williams pulled out of their much-anticipated match with a pectoral injury. "She loves clay. She loves Roland Garros". Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion, was world number one for four weeks from September 11 to October 8 a year ago.

"Keep on playing like that", Putintseva said, "she can go all the way here".

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

Muguruza advanced in the fourth round when Lesia Tsurenko retired after just two games, but her recent run has still been impressive with only five lost games in her last three rounds, including a 6-0, 6-2 win over Samantha Stosur in Round 3.

The signs were ominous when the five-times Grand Slam champion coughed up three nervy double-faults in the opening game. "If I do that, I will be okay after the match, no matter the result".

By the time Sharapova recovered somewhat to play better it was too late, and Muguruza was into her impressive stride, with the court finally filling up post-lunch.

But Stephens has yet to lose a set to Keys in their two previous meetings and Keys has come through a very open quarter of the draw that was supposed to be anchored by No.4 Elina Svitolina.

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