Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens both had strong showings in Thursday’s French Open semifinals, as the Romanian saw off 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza, while the American had little trouble against her countrywoman Madison Keys.
Halep succeeded in retaining her No.1 ranking by very convincingly defeating Muguruza, the Spaniard who entered the semifinals without dropping a set and who demolished Maria Sharapova in the quarters. After just over 20 minutes of play, the top-seeded Halep already enjoyed a 5-0 lead and even though Muguruza broke her serve in the sixth game, the first set quickly belonged to Halep. The third-seeded Muguruza opened the second set with a 3-1 lead, but Halep drew even at 4-4 and after managing to hold serve in the marathon ninth game of the set, the Romanian broke her opponent at love to win the match 6-1 6-4.
In the second semifinal, Stephens’ solid game was met by Keys’ unforced errors (41 to her opponent’s 11!) and the reigning US Open champion, who will rise to a career-high ranking of No.4 on Monday, convincingly recorded a 6-4 6-4.
A sole break of serve in the third game of the first set allowed Stephens to cruise through the first half of the match, while in the second set Keys threatened a bit by breaking serve to go from 2-5 to 3-5, but Stephens immediately broke back and finished the job. The all-American semifinal was closer than the one between Halep and Muguruza, but even though it featured three games more, it was 15 minutes shorter, because points were generally quicker.
Stephens has so far played just one Grand Slam final and won it, while Halep is 0-3 in major finals, including two at Roland Garros, in 2014 and 2017. When it comes to head-to-head stats, Halep is an overwhelming favorite, leading 5-2, including 2-0 on clay.
And last but not least, let’s applaud Nike, as the company has only recently signed these two players (Stephens in January 2018, Halep in February 2018) and now they are forming the first all-Nike final in three years.