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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Muguruza faces Halep in French Open semi-finals after routing Sharapova

Spanish third seed dropped just three games and will face the world No 1 from Romania for a place in the final

Garbine Muguruza applauds the crowd after beating Maria Sharapova to reach the French Open semi-finals. Charles Platiau / Reuters
Garbine Muguruza applauds the crowd after beating Maria Sharapova to reach the French Open semi-finals. Charles Platiau / Reuters

Former champion Garbine Muguruza and top seed Simona Halep claimed the remaining French Open semi-final spots on Wednesday, and will face each other for a place in Sunday's showpiece.

No 3 seed Muguruza, the 2016 Roland Garros winner, thrashed Russia's Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-1on Court Philippe Chatrier, while over on Court Suzanne Lenglen Halep recovered from a slow start to defeat Germany's Angelique Kerber 6-7, 6-3, 6-2.

The French Open semi-final will be the fifth meeting between the pair, with Muguruza holding a 4-1 win-loss record over Halep, although the Spaniard's most recent victory was a walkover while Halep won their only match on clay.

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Following the anti-climax of Sharapova's eagerly-awaited fourth round match against Serena Williams getting cancelled, there was hope that her quarter-final clash with Muguruza would provide a good contest.

What transpired proved a one-sided domination delivered by the Spaniard, who claimed her first victory over Sharapova at the fourth attempt.

"I am very pleased to be in another final in Paris," Muguruza, 24, said.m "I was up against a great player so I had make sure I brought my best tennis."

If Muguruza was completely untroubled, Halep needed to fight back from a set down before she took control of her quarter-final against Kerber.

Simona Halep is chasing her first grand slam title. Matthew Stockman / Getty Images
Simona Halep is chasing her first grand slam title. Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Halep lost the first four games of the match against the No 12 seed, but the Romanian clawed her way back into the contest, winning three straight games as both players struggled to hold on to their serves in a marathon opening set.

Kerber eventually prevailed in a tiebreak, but Halep came out firing in the second, dictating play from the baseline. By the third set Halep had broken down the German's defences - and her resolve.

"It's always a tough match when I play against her. After the first set I just stayed strong and didn't give up," said 26-year-old Halep, who is bidding for her first grand slam title and a third Roland Garros final.

"I missed a lot in the beginning. I tried to do too much. I changed the tactics a bit and it worked."

The other semi-final will see a rematch from the 2017 US Open final as Madison Keys looks to earn revenge against fellow American Sloane Stephens.