2018 Roland Garros WTA Semifinal Previews: Halep vs Muguruza, Keys vs Stephens

Roland Garros, Semifinal Match Previews

1. [1] Simona Halep (No.1) vs [3] Garbine Muguruza (No.3)

2018 French Open - Day Four

The first semifinal of the French Open has went according to seeding as top seed Halep and third seed Muguruza will compete for a ticket into the Roland Garros final, as well as the No.1 ranking when the tables are published next Monday. Both players seem to be able to produce their best tennis in Paris – Halep’s gunning for her third final at RG, while Muguruza is into the second week here for the fifth straight year. Muguruza always seems to elevate her game for the Slams and this time round it’s been the same – she hasn’t dropped a set in quick dismissals of Svetlana Kuznetsova, Sam Stosur and Maria Sharapova.

Halep’s route to this stage has been way more difficult as she needed to come back from a set down to defeat Kerber in another of their three-set battles. Halep wasn’t able to play her best tennis, but showed fighting spirit instead as she continued to apply pressure on Kerber’s service games, with the latter struggling with some foot injury. Halep has had slow starts in majority of her matches this fortnight and will need to avoid that if she is to overcome a focussed and strong Muguruza at the moment.

Head to head: Muguruza leads the head to head 3-1, with their last meeting a 6-1 6-0 beatdown of the Romanian in the Cincinnati final. That match brings back some bad memories! They have only met on clay once, with Halep winning that one 3-6 6-1 6-3 in Stuttgart three years ago.

Thoughts: Muguruza has been in the zone this fortnight and is playing her trademark Slam tennis which saw her storm her way to the 2016 Roland Garros and 2017 Wimbledon trophies. I still think though she can be vulnerable on her forehand wing but everyone’s unable to expose that with the way Muguruza has been overpowering her opponents. Will Halep be able to do so? She will need to play a really gutsy match by exposing Muguruza’s movement and playing positively as far as possible. However the head to head is really in Muguruza’s favour and with the way the Spaniard’s been delivering this fortnight, I doubt she can turn it around. Going for the Spaniard to reach her second French Open final…

Final Prediction: Garbine Muguruza d. Simona Halep in three sets

2. [13] Madison Keys (No.13) vs [10] Sloane Stephens (No.10)

2018 French Open - Day Four

Stephens seems to be the American version of Muguruza at the moment – she always seems to be able to elevate her game for the big events and she has done it again this fortnight with her first appearance in the semifinals in Paris. Excluding her round of 16 match with Camila Giorgi where she was forced to pull through 8-6 in the deciding set, Stephens has not dropped more than four games in her other four matches. Her latest beatdown of Daria Kasatkina in the QFs was very impressive as she was able to deal with everything Kasatkina threw at her. She also was moving so well, and was able to inject pace and play positively when she had the chance to do so. This does not bode well for close friend Madison in the semifinals, where she was thrashed 6-3 6-0 by Stephens in the US Open final last year…

Keys though has been playing some brilliant tennis herself and her high-quality quarterfinal against Yulia Putintseva has been one of my favourite matches of the fortnight thus far. If this match happened a few years ago, I think she wouldn’t have won it – all credit to Lindsay Davenport this two weeks! Putintseva threw everything she had at Keys – drop shots, slices, moonballs and some stunning net play. However, Keys stuck to her game plan and was playing with controlled aggression. Keys did not overpress when Putintseva used the high ball or the slice, and even mixed it up herself with her own bag of tricks. Keys has not dropped a set in the tournament so far and is looking really good at the moment.

Head to head: Stephens leads the head to head 2-0, with both encounters decided in straight sets. This will be their first meeting on a clay court and first encounter outside of the US.

Thoughts: Keys has always struggled with the counter-punchers and the likes of Kerber, Wozniacki, Halep and Radwanska as they are always able to bring one more ball back and force Keys into an error. Even though Keys has been very patient and playing with controlled aggression this fortnight, a counter-puncher like Stephens can easily break her rhythm. With the way Stephens has been in the zone and barely leaking any errors, I am backing her to progress into her second Grand Slam final.

Final Prediction: Sloane Stephens d. Madison Keys in two sets

Thanks for reading! Roland Garros predictions can be found here!

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