Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Sloane Stephens downs Madison Keys again to reach French Open final

Madison Keys French Open 2018 French Open 2018: Madison Keys beats Yulia Putintseva to reach semi-finals
Lucia Summers | 08 June, 2018, 22:39

Earlier, Keys advanced to her first French Open semifinal by defeating Yulia Putintseva 7-6 (5), 6-4.

Halep reached her fourth major final by brushing aside Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-4 at Roland Garros to set up a showdown with Sloane Stephens on Saturday (June 9).

As in NY nine months ago, it was a mistake-riddled performance from Keys, who committed 41 unforced errors to Stephens' 11.

Keys has now reached the semifinal stage at three of the four Grand Slams. Stephens followed with a 6-3 6-1 thumping of Russian Daria Kasatkina.

However, she must have had a sense of deja vu as her compatriot and good friend Stephens made light work of her on Court Philippe Chatrier to set up a final with Simona Halep.

Like Halep, Stephens is an incredibly talented defensive player, and she kept stretching points Thursday until Keys would err. If she can turn the match into a track meet - Halep's specialty - she might be able to wear down her opponent. In the second men's quarterfinal, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic are locked at 6-6 in a first-set tiebreaker.

"I think the biggest thing is just staying so level-headed after being down a break in the first", Keys said.

Stephens broke for a 4-1 lead in the first set and would lose only three more games, in the second set winning six in a row. "It's 'go time.' Until then, we're the same girls, as always".

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Keys bagged the set at the end of a long rally in which her opponent defended ferociously, gradually stepping into the court to end the exchange with a backhand victor. Just more the official title.' Speaking about Davenport's impact on her, Keys said: 'She's really helped me in that aspect of taking charge of my schedule and saying what I want.

The unseeded Putintseva, who played more safely, had the first break opportunity in the seventh game, which she converted when Keys buried a backhand into the net.

Across the way at Court Suzanne Lenglen, No. 5 del Potro got distracted by a spectator right before a key double-fault, then marched over toward the stands to try to figure out who it was.

Should Stephens go all the way to the final her brother might be kicking himself though. It's a Grand Slam final.

The 25th-seeded Kontaveit was unable to exert any pressure on the 10th-seeded Stephens with her error-strewn game.

Now comes challenge of taking on Nadal at Roland Garros.

Stephens, who had never gone past the fourth round in Paris, will take on twice French Open runner-up and world No. 1 Simona Halep of Romania in Saturday's final. "I was close to quit".

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