Muguruza says top ranking no longer 'that important'

Angelique Kerber

She was helped by her opponent as the Russian produced three double-faults in the opening game to gift it to the Venezuelan. "After the first set I just stayed strong and didn't give up", Halep told the court Suzanne Lenglen crowd in a post-match interview.

"It's always a tough match when I play against her. But, yeah, I think she made everyone wait a little bit".

The Romanian is chasing a first Grand Slam title having lost the final of this event a year ago to Jelena Ostapenko.

Halep next faces third-seeded Garbine Muguruza. Halep pointed her right index finger at her temple when she eventually completed a 6-7 (2) 6-3 6-2 comeback to reach the semifinals, too.

Halep has won five of her past nine matches against the 12th-seeded Kerber, including their most recent encounter in the Australian Open semifinals when she saved two match points.

Muguruza moved into the final four with a convincing 6-2 6-1 victory over Russia's Maria Sharapova on Wednesday. The 24-year-old Muguruza holds a 3-1 record over Halep, with the victor of the last-four clash to face either Sloane Stephens or her fellow American Madison Keys in the final.

Muguruza has not dropped a set so far in this year's tournament as she seeks a second championship in Paris and third major trophy overall. This time, she needed only 70 minutes to eliminate Sharapova and dominated her with superb returning, breaking the former No. 1 a half-dozen times.

But the 26-year-old amassed six of her 30 unforced errors in the first in the tiebreaker. Muguruza sensed weakness and pounced for a 4-0 lead.

Kerber found decent length on her forehand, regularly putting Halep close to the baseline, and went easily 4-0 up.

Rafael Nadal has dropped a set at the French Open for the first time since 2015. The record for the clay-court Grand Slam tournament was Bjorn Borg's 41-set winning streak from 1978-81.

The second quarter-final between Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro is also finely balanced with the players tied at 5-5 in the tiebreak in the opening set.

When the top-seeded Halep and No 3 Muguruza meet Thursday, their contrasting styles will match up with plenty at stake.

It ranked among one of the most lopsided losses ever suffered by Sharapova in her Grand Slam career. Halep is a three-time runner-up at majors, including in Paris in 2014 and 2017.

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