Sports

Del Potro sets up French Open semifinal match against Nadal

Del Potro sets up French Open semifinal match against Nadal

Still only 26 and finally unshackled from that overwhelming sense of uncertainty, Halep will enter the second half of the season with a firm grip on her No. 1 ranking and a renewed sense of confidence.

Backed by fans who loudly chanted her first name between games, Halep went ahead 3-0 in only 15 minutes with the help of only one victor.

As Stephen's level dropped, Halep demonstrated her mental strength, flipping the script from last year's final, when she led by a set and a break against Ostapenko before collapsing. In the last game I felt I could not breathe any more.

The fifth-seeded Del Potro, whose career has been hampered by injuries, beat third-seeded Marin Cilic 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 Thursday.

Halep has won her last four matches against Stephens and both of their meetings on clay, including in the 2014 French Open fourth round, while the two have never played a three-set encounter.

Halep thus confirmed her status as the No.1 player in the world, having also made the final of the Australian Open in January before losing to Caroline Wozniacki.

Stevens netted a service return to bow out.

Nadal is only the third male player in the Open era to reach 11 semifinals at a single Grand Slam, alongside Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors.

The win for Halep also means she will not lose hold of her world number one ranking, no matter what happens in the next game. Now she says it: "'I want to win a Grand Slam'".

More news: Will Golden Knights make more lineup changes for Game 5?

The loss of the second set clearly had a negative effect of Stephens, who began to show signs of frustration on court. I think Halep's ability to retrieve balls will keep her in the match but not lead her to a win.

This much is certain: Simona Halep is a Grand Slam champion, now and forever. She has lost all three in the past, including two at Roland Garros in 2014 and a year ago. She's very strong on court.

Stephens played a first set of staggering quality, and not even the world number one, on her favourite court, could find the answers.

When serving for the set, Stephens survived a break point to go on and win the opener 6-3 and looked to have the edge. "It's just how it's happened for me", Stephens had said and there are no predictions on what will happen but one will come out a victor and Halep might feel that this is her time and she's going to take the opportunity to come out on top here at Roland Garros right now.

Stephens briefly looked out on her feet, but raised her game by shortening the points to break straight back before levelling the set at 4-4, helped by the first ace of the match. And Halep, already a massive star in her home country, knows she has received growing support from elsewhere. She ended up with six double-faults and 27 total unforced errors, 12 more than Muguruza.

The top-ranked Halep, playing in her third singles final at Roland Garros, won the toss and chose to receive.

Simona Halep needs no reminding of her record in major finals: 0-3.

There couldn't have been a more popular champion as the tennis world celebrated nearly more than Halep did.


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