Expect no letup in Halep-Stephens final

Maria Sharapova and Garbine Muguruza

Maria Sharapova and Garbine Muguruza face off for a place in the French Open semi-finals on Wednesday Credit afp

The American was defeated 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 by world No 1 Simona Halep in Saturday's championship match at Roland Garros in what was her first defeat in a final after previously boasting a ideal 6-0 record. "I am so glad it happened here in Paris, my special city".

"Thanks guys it was awesome and I felt your support", Halep, twice a runner-up in Paris before today, told the crowd who were chanting her name.

"And then when I started to win games, I said that past year happened to me - same thing, I was set and a break up and I lost the match".

"The last time we played was a very long time ago, and a lot of things happened in between that.So I feel like I am a more developed player".

She did it the hard way, though, falling a set and a break behind to Stephens, who was hunting a second major title to add to her triumph at last year's US Open.

Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro wept courtside after downing third seed Marin Cilic 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 to set up a semifinal clash with Rafael Nadal.

After dropping her first set at the tournament, the 2016 victor Muguruza fared better in the second, while failing to stop the in-form Halep towards her third final appearance at Grand Slam tournaments.

Her third came earlier this year to another perennial underachiever on the biggest stage, Dane Caroline Wozniacki, in a marathon match in sweltering conditions at the Australian Open.

Stevens netted a service return to bow out.

"It's always a pleasure playing him in a Grand Slam". Stephens, on the other hand, has one Grand Slam in her kitty.

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Keys attempted to respond three games later as she began picking off the Stephens serve, however, she squandered the two break points that came her way and her profligacy was ultimately punished.

A rattled Halep was broken to start the second and Stephens built on the advantage by digging out of a 0-30 hole.

"I think she's had a tough journey", Stephens said of Halep.

Halep has been on the cusp of winning Slams before, but she has cracked mentally on every occasion, losing all three of her finals in three sets.

"I have another chance to be in the final and hope to do better than past year". She's very strong on court. She is the better overall player than Stephens, and clay just widens the margin.

"Congratulations to Simona. There is no-one else I'd rather lose to than the number one in the world", Stephens, who will rise to four in the rankings, said.

Simona Halep is two wins away from earning her first Grand Slam title.

Sloane Stephens of the USA clenches her fist after defeating compatriot Madison Keys during in semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium, Thursday, June 7, 2018 in Paris. She broke to grab the second set when Stephens sailed a backhand wide, all part of a seven-game run that made it 5-0 in third. And Halep, already a massive star in her home country, knows she has received growing support from elsewhere. Stephens indicated to Halep she should raise it proudly overhead.

Russian tennis player Elena Vesnina praises Halep.

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