Simona Halep predicts Garbine Muguruza plan for French Open clash

French Open -- Women's quarterfinals

Top seed Simona Halep reached her third French Open final when she stopped hard-hitting Spaniard Garbine Muguruza in her tracks with a 6-1 6-4 semi-final victory on Thursday.

Halep took her place in a second consecutive Grand Slam final after losing in the final of the Australian Open in January to Caroline Wozniacki and fourth final at the majors overall.

The victor will face either Garbine Muguruza or top-seeded Simona Halep in the final.

Simona Halep followed Rafa Nadal on court, and she followed Nadal's gameplan to perfection-it was a masterful performance of defense plus offense.plus defense.

Half an hour later 1-0 had become 6-1 and the challenge of Muguruza, who would have taken over at the top of the rankings with victory, appeared to be fading fast.

Muguruza looked dominant in the win over Sharapova, winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-1. Stephens has made the second week in Paris in five of her seven appearances and Keys is slowly coming to terms with the surface.

Backed by fans who loudly chanted her first name between games, Halep went ahead 3-0 with the help of only one victor.

Muguruza's opponent Lesia Tsurenko lasted just two games before retiring hurt.

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It was just her 5th loss in 25 Grand Slam quarter-finals.

This time, she made no mistake.

Sharapova might prefer to be described as a veteran rather than an antique, but the analytics that matter to her have nothing to do with birthday candles at this point. "I've had issues with the right pectoral muscle to the point where I can't serve", said the 36-year-old after withdrawing from the match. "I think everyone would ask me questions, as well", she said. Halep has won her last four matches against Stephens - two last summer at the Citi Open and Western & Southern Open. The Russian won only five of 26 second-serve points in the face of Muguruza's elegant 6-2, 6-1 stampede.

But she has not dropped a set in this year's tournament and dominated Sharapova with booming groundstrokes and superb returning that earned six breaks.

"I think I played one of my best matches on clay", Halep said in a courtside interview. I'm not ever going to try to be a person that isn't nice, so that feels more authentic to me and, you know, I think I'm still doing okay.

But it was the German who started the stronger, out-hitting her rival with lethal accuracy, to win the first four games as Halep struggled to find her serving rhythm and peppered the tramlines with unforced errors.

But I also think Stephens has figured out the awkward dynamic of playing your good friend better than Keys has. "It is a very tough day, because, you know, it's one of those matches where you train so hard, you know, to achieve a Grand Slam final".

There were no such fireworks this time, though, with Halep sealing a 6-7 (7-2) 6-3 6-2 victory.

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