Halep too hot to handle for Muguruza in Paris

Many expected a close contest, but World No 1 Simona Halep proved far too strong for former champion Garbine Muguruza at Roland Garros on Thursday.

Halep, still in the hunt for her first Grand Slam title after numerous near-misses, booked her place in Saturday’s final with an impressive 6-1, 6-4 victory over the 2016 champion.

The victory was set up by a dominant performance in the first set. Halep started the match with real intent, and was all over Muguruza from the very first game, breaking immediately before snuffing out a determined fightback from the Spaniard in the next game.

Having saved three break points to consolidate her lead, Halep continued her onslaught on Muguruza’s shaky serve.

By the end of the set, Halep had claimed four straight breaks to race into a one-set lead. Muguruza had claimed one break of her own, but it did little to aid her cause, as she was already 5-0 down at the time, and she would lose her serve again in the following game anyway to give away the set.

Muguruza needed a strong response at the top of the second set, and to her credit, she was able to provide it.

The World No 3 tightened up her service games, and continued to cause Halep some problems on her own serve. That combination of solid defence and offence soon handed Muguruza a break and a 3-1 lead.

But Halep wasn’t done yet. The diminutive Romanian was back on the offensive a couple of games later, snaffling a break point in the eighth game to get back on serve.

Then came Muguruza’s final stand: a marathon ninth game that went to deuce no less than seven times that saw her earn three break points but fail to convert them all.

That wasted effort seemed to affect Muguruza in her next service game, which she surrendered without winning a point to hand Halep a deserved victory.

“I think I played one of my best matches on clay,” Halep said afterwards.

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