French Open Semifinal Previews: Halep vs. Muguruza; Stephens vs. Keys

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It will be Simona Halep vs. Garbine Muguruza, and Sloane Stephens vs. Madison Keys, in Thursday's French Open semifinals. (Tennis Channel)

Before each day's play begins in Paris, we'll preview three must-see matches that you'll find on Tennis Channel Plus. Tennis Channel Plus features up to 10 courts of live action from Roland Garros beginning Sunday, May 27 at 5:00am ET. Catch up and watch all your favorite stars anytime, on-demand, with Tennis Channel Plus.

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Simona Halep [1] vs. Garbine Muguruza [3]

Despite playing their quarterfinals 24 hours later than Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens, Muguruza and Halep will go first on Thursday. If that has an effect on anyone, it’s probably going to be Halep, who played one more set, and one more hour, of tennis than Muguruza on Wednesday.

Even if both women are at full strength, though, the Spaniard would seem to be a slight favorite. She has rolled through the draw without dropping a set. She’s coming off a career-highlight 6-2, 6-1 win over Maria Sharapova, a woman she had never beaten before, and she has a 3-1 record against Halep. Muguruza has been in the zone, and if she can stay there, no one is likely beat her. 

But she’s still only a slight favorite over Halep. The Romanian won their only meeting on clay, in three sets, in 2015. She bounced back from early adversity against Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals, which should help her if she has a slow start against Muguruza. And Halep plays a different game from Muguruza’s last two opponents, Sharapova and Sam Stosur. Muguruza can’t expect, as she did in the quarterfinals, that her well-hit shots won’t be coming back, and won’t be coming back over and over again. Still, Muguruza appears up to the challenge of making those extra putaway balls. Winner: Muguruza

Daily Serve—previewing women's semifinal Thursday at Roland Garros

Sloane Stephens [10] vs. Madison Keys [13]

The tennis gods have done Keys, and the rest of us who are interested in these two young Americans, a favor: They’ve given her a second shot at Stephens in a late-round Grand Slam match, less than a year after Keys made a hash of their 2017 US Open final. 

The question now becomes: was that match, which Stephens won in a hailstorm of unforced errors by Keys, just the product of an anxiety attack by a Slam-final rookie? Or is there something about Stephens’ game that will always trouble Keys? Stephens also won their only other meeting, in Miami in 2015, in straight sets. Stephens poses a challenge for the heavy-hitting but inconsistent Keys because she’s faster and steadier, and she can also punch back with her own pace. As far as their current form goes, both women are peaking at the right time; Keys hasn’t dropped a set, while Stephens lost just six games in total against two quality opponents, Anett Kontaveit and Daria Kasatkina, in her last two matches.

Keys will surely be determined to make the world forget her brain cramp at Flushing Meadows. And I don’t think that Sloane will always have her number, especially on other surfaces. But on clay, with Stephens in the form she’s in right now, I’ll think she’ll have her number again on Thursday. Winner: Stephens

—Tennis Channel Plus features up to 10 courts of live action from Roland Garros beginning Sunday, May 27 at 5:00am ET.

—Catch up and watch all your favorite stars anytime on-demand with Tennis Channel Plus.

—When you buy Tennis Channel Plus, your 12-month subscription gets you access to every ATP Masters 1000 tournament played outside the U.S., and every round through the finals of WTA Indian Wells, Miami and Cincinnati.

(The availability of matches or events on TC Plus is subject to change.)

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