Stephens pre­vails in all-Amer­i­can semi

Manteca Bulletin - - Sports -

PARIS (AP) — When the French Open fi­nal was played a year ago, Sloane Stephens was nowhere near Roland Gar­ros. She was in Chicago with coach Ka­mau Mur­ray, work­ing her way back from a foot in­jury that re­quired surgery and side­lined her for 11 months.

“In­doors on a hard court. Get­ting ready for grass. Barely walk­ing. Play­ing ten­nis next to a bunch of 5- and 6-yearold scream­ing kids,” Mur­ray re­called. “So to be here from there, I think, is re­ward­ing, be­cause those times were not easy.”

The times are good now. Stephens closed in on her sec- ond Grand Slam ti­tle by beat­ing pal Madi­son Keys 6-4, 6-4 on Thurs­day in the first all-Amer­i­can semi­fi­nal at the French Open since 2002. It also was a re­match of the U.S. Open fi­nal won by Stephens last Septem­ber.

“It’s al­ways hard play­ing some­one from your coun­try and such a good friend,” Stephens said, “so I was re­ally pleased to be able to get through that and play some good ten­nis.”

The 10th-seeded Stephens’ op­po­nent in Satur­day’s fi­nal will be Si­mona Halep, who em­phat­i­cally ended the im­pres­sive French Open run of 2016 cham­pion Gar­bine Mugu­ruza by de­feat­ing her 6-1, 6-4.

Halep, who as­sured her­self of re­tain­ing the No. 1 rank­ing with the vic­tory, earned a fourth chance to win her first ma­jor ti­tle.

She twice has lost in the fi­nal at Roland Gar­ros — to Maria Shara­pova in 2014 and to Je­lena Ostapenko in 2017 — and was the run­ner-up to Caro­line Woz­ni­acki at the Aus­tralian Open in Jan­uary.

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