Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Maria Sharapova hits back at Serena Williams in book row

GETTYSerena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open GETTYSerena Williams has withdrawn from the French Open
Cassandra Gardner | 08 June, 2018, 07:15

World number one Simona Halep is two wins away from her maiden grand slam singles title after defeating Angelique Kerber at the French Open to set up a semi-final against Garbine Muguruza.

Muguruza looked dominant in the win over Sharapova, winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-1.

American duo Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys will square off in the Roland Garros semi-finals on Thursday, in a rematch of last September's US Open final.

"I think the book was 100 percent hearsay, at least all the stuff I read and the quotes that I read, which was a little bit disappointing", said Williams, who played in her first Grand Slam since giving birth previous year. After sitting out almost a year because of an injured right foot that needed surgery in January 2017, she has soared up the rankings and now made it to her second major final in the past ninth months.

The world number one will face US Open champion Sloane Stephens in Saturday's final on Philippe-Chatrier.

As great a mover and defender as Halep is, she could be left powerless if Muguruza is at her imposing best. I will play my game against her, as I did past year.

"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 - didn't have the rhythm", Sharapova told reporters.

"It's always hard to play someone from your country, and such a good friend, so I'm pleased to get through that", said Stephens.

Muguruza's opponent Lesia Tsurenko lasted just two games before retiring hurt.

More U.S. Diplomats Evacuated After Possible ‘Sonic Attack’ in China
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That became 4-2 before Halep broke back for 4-4 and then held serve in a 14-minute game which went to a seventh deuce and saw Muguruza blow three break points.

Like Halep, Stephens is an incredibly talented defensive player, and she kept stretching points Thursday until Keys would err.

In short, this is proper, pressure second-week of a grand slam tennis.

A comeback never appeared likely and, though Stephens was unable to serve out the match at 5-2 after Keys gifted her a double break, she did so at the second attempt with a precise backhand down the line.

But it was the German who started the stronger, out-hitting her rival with lethal accuracy, to win the first four games as Halep struggled to find her serving rhythm and peppered the tramlines with unforced errors.

"It's really tough to get any ball by her, but especially today, she was neutralizing so well".

"I am really happy that I won the match, it was very important for my mind and I gave it all I had", said Romanian star Halep. But she failed to convert any of those, and Halep held there, before breaking at love to end it.

The American pair have contrasting styles, with Stephens' game based on her athleticism and ability to get many balls back, while also turning defence into offence fairly quickly. It would be very odd, I think, if I didn't write anything about her.

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