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Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Ruthless Muguruza ready to end Simona Halep's French Open challenge

Keys should show fight in US rematch

Garbine Muguruza hammers a backhand against Maria Sharapova
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Women's semi-finals
ITV4 & Eurosport 1&2, 11am Thursday

Halep v Muguruza
The betting suggests there is nothing between Simona Halep and Garbine Muguruza for this French Open semi-final meeting but Muguruza bulldozed her way past Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals and could prove too strong for the Romanian.

Muguruza, the 2016 Roland Garros heroine and the reigning Wimbledon champion, doesn't always produced her best form on a week-to-week basis on the WTA Tour but she has a habit of showing her true colours at the biggest events.

The 24-year-old has appeared in three Grand Slam semi-finals in her career, winning each of them, and has looked imperious on a court where she clearly feels comfortable.

Muguruza powered her way past 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the opening round and has since clocked easy victories over Fiona Ferro and Sam Stosur before obliterating Sharapova 6-2 6-1.

World number one Halep is a fine player but Muguruza leads their personal series 3-1. The Romanian is a super-determined battler, as she demonstrated by beating Angie Kerber in three sets in the quarters, although she has developed a tendency to come up short when the pressure is on at the highest level.

Recommendation
G Muguruza
2pts 10-11 general

Keys v Stephens
Sloane Stephens's superior defensive skills frustrated the life out of Daria Kasatkina in Tuesday's quarter-final and the American is favourite to beat compatriot Madison Keys in a rematch of last season's US Open final.

Stephens was triumphant on that occasion, despite heading into the contest as the underdog, but Keys looked as though she froze on the big stage while her opponent handled the situation better.

There will be nerves again, but Keys went into that clash as favourite and couldn't handle the pressure in front of a New York crowd, so expect the 23-year-old to keep things closer at Roland Garros.

Keys is yet to drop a set in Paris, playing against some tough competitors in Sachia Vickery, Caroline Dolehide, Naomi Osaka and Elina Svitolina's conqueror Mihaela Buznarnescu before dispatching Yulia Putintseva in the quarters.

Stephens will need to be at her defensive best again if she is to stop Keys's powerful groundstrokes and, while the US Open champion is the right favourite, there might not be much between them on Philippe Chatrier.

Recommendation
M Keys +3.5 games
1pt 4-5 Betfred


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Muguruza has appeared in three Grand Slam semi-finals in her career, winning each of them
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