Paris: 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 semifinal victory here Thursday.
In men’s singles matches which had been interrupted by rain Wednesday top seed Rafa Nadal overcame the blip of set loss, his first since 2015 at the Roland Garros to seal a semifinal spot with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Diego Schwartzman. He will meet Argentine Juan Martin del Potro who overcame Marin Cilic in a match of powerful hitters 7-6(7-5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5.
Romanian Halep, who will also keep hold of the World No.1 ranking as a result of the victory, made a flying start and was 5-0 in quick time as Muguruza made some wild errors.
Muguruza ratcheted up the intensity in the second set and broke in the third game when a powerful return forced an error, only for Halep to fight her way back to level at 4-4. A marathon ninth game proved pivotal as Halep saved three breakpoints to pile the pressure on the third seed.
Halep then seized her chance, moving 0-40 ahead and then raising her arms in triumph as Muguruza blazed a backhand long.
In the match which began Wednesday, Nadal had looked jaded and tired. However, the rain interruption helped him immensely and when he returned Thursday, he was a different player altogether.
Down a set and a break, Nadal became the aggressor Thursday. He won 12 of the first 13 points before cruising into the last four. In the last two sets Nadal hit 26 winners, a much improved figure than the 12 he had in the first two
“It was a very difficult match against a very good friend and a very good player. I think that after the rain interruption I played much better, I was more aggressive,” said Nadal.
Del Potro has looked one of the biggest threats to the Spaniard’s domination this year, with his pulverising forehand dismantling everyone in his path on the Parisian clay.
The contest against Cilic, who owns a beast of a serve was expected to be an acid test for DelPo, but he came out of it with flying colours. He appeared almost overcome with emotion after reaching his first French Open semifinal since 2009.
“Well, it’s tough to speak,” the 29-year-old, who has risen back to sixth in the rankings after battling back from three left wrist surgeries, said on court as fans sang ‘DelPo, DelPo’.
At a glance
Simona Halep bt Garbine Muguruza 6-1, 6-4
Rafa Nadal bt Diego Schwartzman 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2
Del Potro bt Marin Cilic 7-6(7-5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5