French Open 2018: Simona Halep enters the final defeating Garbine Muguruza
Simona Halep was on a mission to make it her tournament to win at the French Open Thursday.
The world No.1 came off the baseline with furious aggression and accuracy that got the best of Garbine Muguruza who couldn’t answer in kind to fall in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 on Philippe Chatrier Court at Roland Garros.
It clinched the Romanian’s second straight appearance in the final and the third of her career in the year’s second slam.
Both have strong records on the clay courts this season and one against each other in their four-match series that the Spaniard leads.
She took Halep in a full match three years ago in Stuttgart only to lose in that competition. The world number one looked to keep her winning streak against Muguruza on clay and get back to the title match for a second straight year.
The world number three had the idea differently in her quest to win a second title at Roland Garros. She proved her worth against Maria Sharapova giving the Russian very little chances to recover from her own demise.
The 24-year-old had yet to drop a set in her tournament run with the hope of keeping that streak alive.
The Romanian broke Muguruza to open the match but on serve in the second, she had a 40-15 lead but lost it to the Spaniard who fired back well to force deuce.
After a couple of breaks the top seed held firm to contain service leading 2-0. Halep continued the strategy of playing the ball near the baseline making it difficult for the Spaniard to put just the right amount of force on the return.
On nearly every return during the rallies, Muguruza saw the ball go long or wide giving the world number one a 4-0 run after 19 minutes.
Halep’s forehand and aggression continued to get the best of the world number three who was unable to make much of her serve in the fifth.
Halep swept up the game on Deuce as Muguruza’s attempt to get away from her issues stuck to her like glue.
It left the Romanian who had a flawless performance so far served for the bagel in the sixth but double faulted. It gave Muguruza enough life to put something together and notch her first game win.
Just when it looked as if the improvements would stick around, the number three seed was overshadowed by the errors that ended her short comeback giving Halep the set in after 38 minutes.
Muguruza had 14 errors but the real issue came from her serve which shot 44 percent from the first serve and 33 percent from the second.
While Halep didn’t have a great offense on serve, her 31-21 on points won was the factor of who was playing stronger in the match.
Halep continued her path of success holding serve to open the second set. In response to her opponent, the third seed held serve as well making the forehand work better.
The third was a big game win for Muguruza attaining the break of serve showing dictation in her gameplay.
Halep caused the Spaniard to make mistakes on serve in the fourth getting the chance to play on deuce.
Both had unforced errors through three breaks but Halep had more during her break chance to fall 3-1 to the 24-year-old.
Halep struck back to be a game down of the Spaniard but with both holding serve, the two-game margin held for Muguruza after six.
A break in the eighth gave Halep the momentum she wanted built up to level the score at four all.
The Romanian used the opportunity of being on serve but watched Muguruza fight back when the right moment arrived.
She forced deuce answering the forehand of Halep’s but not every attempt to counter went right.
Muguruza handed the world number one four chances to end the ninth before turning it around to give herself break opportunities.
She had a third but Halep countered to get one more shot at putting the game away. After 13 minutes and seven breaks, the Romanian won on her fifth attempt to take a pivotal 5-4 lead to play for the match.
The energy both put it became the ultimate ending for the Romanian as she had plenty left in the tank.
Halep hit the returns with all her might leaving nothing for Muguruza to do but to watch her opponent take three match points and bring her tournament to a close in 1 hour and 32 minutes.
The world No.1 finished with a 61 percent success rate on first serve points with four of five points won in front of the net.
Getting six of ten break points converted in her favor was huge in the second set when the situation could have spelled further time on court.
"I am happy that I can have another chance to play the final here in my favorite Grand Slam," Halep said during her on court interview. "I will try my best."
With the avoidance of handing Muguruza any more time to counteract, she would spend that time resting for Saturday’s final where she’ll try to make the third chance charming against either Madison Keyes or Sloane Stephens.
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