Simona Halep keeps the dream alive at Roland Garros

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In Thursday's other semi-final, US Open champion Sloane Stephens will take on fellow American and close friend Madison Keys who she beat 6-3, 6-0 in the final in NY last September.

The 26-year-old Romanian - twice a loser in Paris and edged out at Melbourne in January by Carolina Wozniacki - made it through on Thursday with a 6-1, 6-4 semi-final victory over Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in a match that sprang to life in the second set.

Simona Halep is coming off a three sets win over Angelique Kerber that took 30 games to decide. "I would just call it a road". Someone has to lose.

"I have actually been told quite often that I'll never win or do well because I'm too nice of a person and I just don't have it". Stephens is second only to Halep in break points converted with 27.

The clay courts of Roland Garros host the second Grand Slam of the season. "It's been a little bit longer for me to get used to it, but I feel like every year I get more comfortable".

She improved to 3-0 against her longtime pal and Fed Cup teammate Keys, including their U.S. Open final last September. "It's very hard. I think more when I do play Madi, it's just - on the court it's very competitive". But it's a little weird.

In short, the market has been convinced that Halep is the better player throughout this event, but yet has ditched her for this particular match-up, and it's hard to understand why.

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Halep is aware she can not afford another poor start on Thursday against 24-year-old Muguruza who has been tested just once in Paris and that was in the first round where fellow former victor Svetlana Kuznetsova pushed her to a tiebreak in the first set. Stephens closed in on her second Grand Slam title by beating pal Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday in the first all-American semifinal at the French Open since 2002.

The world number one will face US Open champion Sloane Stephens in Saturday's final on Philippe-Chatrier. I think I have to put a lot of things in perspective for the last, what, four, five weeks since the clay season. "I think everyone would ask me questions, as well", she said. Her return has been flawless most of this tournament and if Halep is going to make a high number of unforced errors again, she stands no chance.

Maria Sharapova's first French Open in three years came to a muted conclusion Wednesday. She won on her first match point with a backhand victor down the line. Of her first 14 points, 13 arrived via errors by Muguruza - nine unforced, four forced.

The signs were ominous when the five-times Grand Slam champion coughed up three nervy double-faults in the opening game.

"It was very nice to play like that", Halep said. Her outlook in general resembles that of someone who is playing with house money. And it's always tough against her. I don't think you have to be mean in order to win matches. But she failed to convert any of those, and Halep held there, before breaking at love to end it.

Halep, who assured herself of retaining the No. 1 ranking with the victory, earned a fourth chance to win her first major title. She's very relaxed about her career.

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