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Halep to face Stephens for title as Nadal sweeps into semifinals

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Romania’s Simona Halep returns the ball to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza during their women’s singles semi-final match on day twelve of The Roland Garros 2018 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 7, 2018. Eric FEFERBERG / AFP

The top seeded Simona Halep of Romania reached her third French Open finals by defeating Garbine Muguruza of Spain 6/4; 6 /1. In the title match, she will face Sloane Stephens, who prevailed over Madison Keys, 6-2; 6-4 in 56 minutes in an all-American contest.

In the match of the day, however, the giant killer from Argentina, Diego Schwartzman, was tamed by defending champion, Rafael Nadal, 4/6; 6/3; 6/2; 6/2 in a match that lasted two days on account of rain interruptions.

On Wednesday, Schwartzman had come on court swinging and he succeeded in spraying winning shots off both wings. The diminutive shot maker halted Nadal’s record of straight sets. After breaking Nadal’s serve to take the ninth game, Schwartzman hit a forehand winner at 40-30 to take the first set 6-4.

In the second set, Schwartzman won the fifth game and led 3-2 when play was first halted. After the rain interruption, Nadal leveled and was leading 5-3 and serving at 30-30 when play was suspended for the day. It was an overnight opportunity to the defending champion to review his game tactics.

On the resumption of play, Nadal held his two service points to take the second set 6-3.
Schwartzman opened serving in the third set and lost the game while Nadal held to lead 2 – 0.

In the third game, the Argentine lost the first two points for 0-30 but leveled with a topspin backhand lob over Nadal at net. He took the game while Nadal held serve to lead 3-1. Although he lost the first point of the fourth game, a perfect drop shot got Schwartzman to 15-all, and a backhand winner from followed by a drop shot gave Nadal a second break an 4-1 lead. A routine hold of serve by each player led to 5-2 and Nadal stepped up to serve for the set.

Nadal reached 40-30 with a drive volley winner but got deuced on an over-rule by the chair umpire.

He saved three break points before taking the game and set 6-2.

Schwartzman held serve to open the fourth se and Nadal held with an overhead smash to level one game apiece.

In the third game, Schwartzman missed three points in a row and then lost the game when he missed a drop attempt. Nadal did not register a first serve in this segment of the match and he double-faulted in opening the fourth game. He won a long 17-shot rally to level 30-all but soon faced 30-40. He held the game with a combination serve and volley winner.

A visibly dejected Schwartzman took only one point on his serve before losing the fifth game while Nadal held to lead 5-1.
The sixth game was the longest of the match. Schwartzman started with a double fault but Nadal missed a forehand to 15-all. The server sent shots al over the court and was rewarded with a 30-15 lead. However, he faced a match point at 30-40 but Nadal lost it with n unforced backhand error.

Schwartzman had the first advantage but dropped on a forehand shot. He required two more opportunities before taking the game that lasted almost nine minutes.

Nadal won the first two points of the eighth game and reached the second match point at 40-30. Then he missed his first serve and got deuced on a forehand error. Next he faced break point but a bold drop shot annulled the threat. Two more break chances were saved when Diego sent a service return out.

On his next match point, Nadal made a first serve that sent Schwartzman wide to the felt and followed with a forehand winner into the open court.

In his quest for an eleventh title at Roland Garros, the king of clay will face Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina while Marco Cechinnato of Italy will slug it out with Austria’s Dominic Thiem.


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