French Open 2018

Halep aims to erase 2017 heartbreak

Romania's Simona Halep celebrates winning her semi-final match 6-1, 6-4 against Spain's Garbine Muguruza and retaining her world No. 1 status. She hopes to make a good fist of performing in tomorrow's final.
Romania's Simona Halep celebrates winning her semi-final match 6-1, 6-4 against Spain's Garbine Muguruza and retaining her world No. 1 status. She hopes to make a good fist of performing in tomorrow's final.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS • Top seed Simona Halep reached her third French Open final yesterday with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza.

The Romanian's win over the third-seeded Spaniard also means she will retain the world No. 1 ranking next week.

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

She will meet US Open champion Sloane Stephens, who beat fellow American Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 in the other semi-final.

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

"I played one of my best matches on clay against a great opponent," added Halep, who will be appearing in her fourth Grand Slam final following her Australian Open defeat in January.

"I was 2-4 down in the second set but I knew I had to fight for every ball, push her back and play the way I did in the first set."

Halep has now defeated Muguruza in both their meetings on clay. Her sights now turn to tomorrow's final in which she is desperate to erase the memories of the horror show last year, when she surrendered a set and a 3-0 lead to lose to Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko.

"I have another chance to be in the final and hope to do better than last year," Halep said.

In the men's quarter-finals, world No. 1 and defending champion Rafael Nadal lost his first set at the French Open since 2015. But that blip did not prevent the 10-time winner from marching into the last four with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Argentina's Diego Schwartzman in their rain-delayed match yesterday.

It will be Nadal's 27th Grand Slam semi-final appearance as he claimed fifth place for the most final-four appearances at Majors in the Open era ahead of retired American great Andre Agassi.

"Diego's a good friend, a really good player," Nadal said.

"It wasn't easy. I played at a better level after the rain."

He will today face fifth seed Juan Martin del Potro, who stands in the way of a record-extending 11th French Open title.

Big-hitting del Potro reached his first Roland Garros semi-final in nine years after beating Croatia's Marin Cilic 7-6 (7-5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 in a contest that was also disrupted by the wet weather.

"It's tough to speak now. It has been a long time without a good feeling in my body," an emotional del Potro said of his numerous injuries in a courtside interview.

"I have had three surgeries on my left wrist and I was close to quitting... It was very important to have the support of my family and friends, and the love of you guys (the fans), you make me so happy.

"I am so proud to be playing tennis. I feel at home here."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2018, with the headline 'Halep aims to erase 2017 heartbreak'. Print Edition | Subscribe