Simona Halep. Picture: REUTERS/EDGAR SU
Simona Halep. Picture: REUTERS/EDGAR SU

Paris — Top seed Simona Halep reached her third French Open final on Thursday with a 6-1 6-4 victory over Garbine Muguruza.

Halep, the runner-up in 2014 and 2017, will face US Open champion Sloane Stephens who beat fellow American Madison Keys 6-4 6-4.

"I am really happy that I won the match, it was very important for my mind and I gave it all I had," said Romanian star Halep.

After racing through the first set, Halep saved three break points in a marathon ninth game of the second which lasted 13 minutes.

"I think I played one of my best matches on clay against a great opponent.

"I was 2-4 down in the second set but I knew I had to play the way I did in the first set," Halep said.

Halep has now defeated Muguruza in both their meetings on clay. However, her sights now turn to the final where she is desperate to erase the memories of 2017’s horror show where she surrendered a set and a 3-0 lead to lose to Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko.

Regardless of the result in the final, Stephens will become the first American to break into the top five in the WTA rankings since Lindsay Davenport — Keys’s coach — in 2006. "It’s always hard to play someone from your country and such a good friend, but I’m happy I played my tennis," Stephens said. "This is one of my favourite tournaments and I’m looking forward to Saturday. Merci Paris, je t’aime."

Earlier top seed Rafa Nadal rediscovered his touch in Paris sunshine to put away Argentine Diego Schwartzman 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2 in the quarterfinals.

The Spaniard, chasing his 11th French Open title, will play Juan Martin del Potro who reached his first French Open semifinals in nine years, beating Croatia’s Marin Cilic 7-6(5) 5-7 6-3 7-5 in a rain-delayed contest.

"It’s tough to speak now," an emotional Del Potro said courtside. "It has been a long time without a good feeling in my body," he said in reference to a series of injuries he has suffered.

AFP, Reuters