Muguruza, Halep to meet in semis

UPDATE: SIMONA Halep and Garbine Muguruza will square off for the world No 1 ranking when they clash in the French Open semi-finals.

Muguruza edged closer to a return to the mantle after dispatching Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-2 in a flat quarter-final.

And she was later joined in the last four by Halep, who outlasted German Angelique Kerber 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 6-2 in a reprise of the pair’s epic Australian Open semi-final.

In a match featuring 12 service breaks, Halep’s superior fitness was a factor from midway through the second set as Kerber struggled with foot blisters.

Halep hit 26 winners to Kerber’s 24 and made slightly fewer unforced errors – 46 to 53 – in an intense encounter stretching 134 minutes.

It was a vastly different tale on Court Philippe-Chatrier, where Muguruza’s power exposed Sharapova’s stilted movement.

The 2016 Roland Garros winner and reigning Wimbledon champion swatted a modest 10 winners and two aces, while restricting her unforced error count to just 15.

Pressure was the right-hander’s most potent weapon, drawing 27 unforced and 20 forced errors from Sharapova.

The 70-minute defeat was Sharapova’s heaviest in Paris since a 6-0 6-2 flogging at the hands of Slovak Dominika Cibulkova in the 2009 quarter-finals.

The five-time major winner’s serving was terrible. She double-faulted three times in the opening game of the match to gift Muguruza the initiative.

She landed just 54 percent of first serves and won only five points – 26 percent – on her second serve.

Halep currently leads Caroline Wozniacki, who was eliminated in the quarters, by just five rankings points.

Muguruza sits third, 200 points adrift.

But if the Spaniard beats Halep in the semis, the No 1 crown will change hands.

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