By Martyn Herman
PARIS (Reuters) – Top seed Simona Halep reached her third French Open final when she stopped hard-hitting Spaniard Garbine Muguruza in her tracks with a 6-1 6-4 semi-final victory on Thursday.
The Romanian, who will also keep hold of the world number one ranking as a result of the victory, made a flying start and was 5-0 in quick time as Muguruza made some wild errors.
Muguruza ratcheted up the intensity in the second set and broke in the third game when a powerful return forced an error, only for Halep to fight her way back to level at 4-4.
A marathon ninth game proved pivotal as Halep saved three break points to pile the pressure on the third seed.
Halep then seized her chance, moving 0-40 ahead and then raising her arms in triumph as Muguruza blazed a backhand long.
She will face the winner of the all-American showdown between Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys in her fourth Grand Slam final.
Halep has been beaten in all of her previous major final appearances, including at Roland Garros last year by Jelena Ostapenko.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)