World No.1 Simona Halep and 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza won in different manners over Germany’s Angelique Kerber and Russia’s Maria Sharapova respectively to set up their semi-final clash at the French Open on Wednesday.
Halep, in chase of her maiden Grand Slam title, came back from one set down to edge Kerber 6-7 (2), 6-3, 6-2, while Spanish third seed crushed Shaparova 6-2, 6-1. Romanian Halep led 5-4 in their previous head-to-head matches, including her 2018 Australian Open semifinal victory after two hours and 20 minutes.
Kerber, who had already matched her best record in Paris with a quarter-final appearance, heated up quicker with four straight games in hand. Although Halep forced a tiebreaker, she let the first set slide away after losing the tiebreaker 7-2. Halep then regrouped herself to triumph in the second set 6-3.
Kerber called for medical treatment three games into the third set, before she conceded a break, and never appeared to threaten Halep’s position. Muguruza conceded just three games to race past Sharapova in one hour and 10 minutes.
“Being aggressive is a part of my game. When you’re facing somebody that also has an aggressive style of game, it’s about who takes the command, who takes the first opportunity,” said Muguruza.
Two-time winner Sharapova made her return to Roland Garros after three years, and advanced to her 25th Grand Slam quarter-final after her arch rival Serena Williams withdrew prior to their 22nd encounter. However, she failed to challenge the Spaniard throughout the match, and easily conceded their first duel in four years. Muguruza remained as the only player in women’s draw that has never dropped a set.
Sharapova said: “I just didn’t feel free, and I felt there was a lot of force behind all the shots and that it wasn’t coming natural to me. I didn’t have the rhythm. She’s a great returner. I think that’s definitely one of the things that she did really well today.”