Second set: Halep 6-1, 5-4 Muguruza*
… A one-two punch from Muguruza in front of the watching Mike Tyson but still Halep gets it back – before Muguruza puts away the smash! Advantage Muguruza, a break point that would leave the Spaniard serving to level the match. The pair trade blows down the middle, neither is willing to budge, but eventually Muguruza surrenders! Deuce No 5. Followed by break point No 2. Halep – on the run – dispatches Muguruza’s return for the winner! Deuce No 6. Break point No 3. Muguruza completely misses a low ball that doesn’t bounce! And Halep then holds! Utterly engrossing. Muguruza must hold serve to stay in the match.
Second set: *Halep 6-1, 4-4 Muguruza
At 40-15, Halep performs the splits, a pirouette and then is flying through the air in an attempt to get the ball back – I think even her compatriot Nadia Comaneci would give her a perfect 10 for artistic effort – but Muguruza wins the point. And the next. From 40-15 it’s deuce. A break for Muguruza here would leave her serving for the set. Halep gets to advantage but then is hauled back to deuce. Some top-class defence and it’s Halep’s advantage again. But there’s her third double fault. Deuce. Could this be a pivotal moment in the set? Advantage Halep. Deuce. The game’s been going for eight minutes …
Second set: *Halep 6-1, 4-4 Muguruza
At 15-all, Muguruza makes a mess of the short ball. 15-30. 15-40, when Halep just finds the sideline with a whipped forehand winner. Two break-back points. Perhaps this match won’t go to a decider after all. An errant backhand from Muguruza and there’s the break! They’re back on serve. Muguruza will be kicking herself after all the work she put in to forge ahead in this second set.
Fancy some Nadal v Schwartzman highlights? Sure you do.
Second set: Halep 6-1, 3-4 Muguruza*
As the intensity increases, so does the noise that both players are making. @PseudoFed doesn’t seem too impressed. Halep stays in touch with the hold.
Second set: *Halep 6-1, 2-4 Muguruza
Halep is huffing and puffing after her effort whistles wide. 15-0. 30-0. 30-15, after a deft touch from Halep at the net. A baseline duel follows, Halep slightly mistimes her forehand and is standing there almost willing it to go in, but it plops wide. 40-15. Game Muguruza.
Second set: Halep 6-1, 2-3 Muguruza*
At 5ft 6in, Halep is giving away a full six inches to Muguruza, but she’s attempting to stand tall here in the face of the current Wimbledon champion’s fightback. She holds to 30 but still finds herself a break down.
Second set: *Halep 6-1, 1-3 Muguruza
Halep looks to have shaken off that negativity and, for the first time in this match, this really feels like a contest. Muguruza gets to 40-15 on serve but a second backhand winner of the day for Halep leaves Muguruza’s feet stuck in the clay. The Spaniard didn’t even move for that. Muguruza goes long and it’s deuce. Then Halep’s advantage. The pair go down the middle, Halep then moves Muguruza wide, but the Romanian goes on to net. Deuce. Halep is furious with herself but she gets another chance to break after Muguruza fires into the tramlines. Halep loops long! Egalité deux. And from there Muguruza holds to consolidate the break, ending with a stinging serve out wide.
Second set: Halep 6-1, 1-2 Muguruza*
Muguruza rallies and holds to 15. Halep hurries to 15-0 on her serve, before Muguruza moves to 15-all and then does her best to get rid of a set of frustration with three big, clean hits in the next point. Even Halep’s defence eventually breaks down. 15-30. 15-40, two break points. This makes things a bit more interesting. Muguruza breaks and Halep is using her racket to clap sarcastically at herself. She could really do without engaging in a mental battle with herself here.
Second set: Halep 6-1, 1-0 Muguruza*
The court has been swept – as it always is between sets at Roland Garros – so it’s something of a fresh start for Muguruza. But it’s the same old story on the first point. And the second. Halep leads 30-0 on serve and Muguruza is cutting a disconsolate figure between points. She can’t figure out a way to penetrate Halep’s defence. Every. Single. Ball. Is coming back. So much for David Ferrrrrreer having the nickname of the Wall. I think he should hand it over to Halep. There again she’s almost playing like the Novak Djokovic of old. Call her Novak Halep. 40-0. 40-15. Game.
There is almost certainly too much for Muguruza to do in this set but at least it’ll give her something to build on at the start of the second. 15-all turns into 30-all. Halep is left slapping her thigh after a backhand skids wide. 40-30. Halep’s return clips the net and drops in, bamboozling Muguruza, whose effort hits the net post and flies back at her. Deuce. Advantage Halep, a first set point. And it’s not only the Romanians in the crowd who seem to be cheering. She’d be a popular champion given her heartbreak in previous years. Deuce. Advantage Halep, a second set point. And Halep rounds off a terrific set of tennis with a forehand winner!
First set: Halep 5-1 Muguruza*
I must admit I didn’t see this coming. Given the way Muguruza dominated Sharapova yesterday, I thought she’d have too much power for Halep. And usually once Muguruza gets going at a grand slam, she’s virtually unbeatable in the later stages. Muguruza gives Halep something to think about at 30-all, and Halep is left to ponder a break point after the next exchange. 30-40. Jeu Muguruza. It’s taken 30 minutes but Muguruza is on the board.
First set: *Halep 5-0 Muguruza
As they’ve just said on the Eurosport commentary, when Halep is playing like this, it’s not hard to see why she’s the world No 1. But then the doubts can creep in, last year’s French Open final being a case in point, when she led Jelena Ostapenko, the unseeded first-time grand slam finalist, by a set and 3-0 before blinking near the finish line. Can she keep those nerves in check today? She’s not showing any sign of weakness in this first set, bringing up a break point at 30-40. A good second serve from Muguruza and it’s deuce. But Muguruza just can’t hit through Halep, whose wall-like play gives her another break point. And it’s 5-0 in 25 minutes. Halep will serve for a first-set bagel.
First set: Halep 4-0 Muguruza*
Halep’s game is based around great movement and defence, but she’s also hitting so deep at the moment, giving Muguruza no time to breathe on the baseline. Which is what Muguruza did to Sharapova yesterday. The Spaniard’s getting a dose of her own medicine. Halep holds to 30 and Muguruza is yet to make her mark on the scoreboard.
First set: *Halep 3-0 Muguruza
Muguruza sent a warning shot to rest of the draw yesterday with her shellacking of Sharapova but she’s not yet firing today. At 15-all, the Spaniard has two chances to win the point with a drive volley but Halep shows some great defence to get the ball back, and then Muguruza misses with the easiest volley of the lot. 15-30. 30-all. 30-40, a point for the double break for Halep. Muguruza has made several errors on the forehand side so far, and there’s another! Halep has the insurance of the double break.
First set: Halep 2-0 Muguruza*
However having broken, Halep is in danger of being broken herself. It’s 0-30. Make that 15-30. But Halep can’t recover any more lost ground. It’s 15-40, double break point. The rallies are already fairly intense, this could turn into a scorcher. Halep wins both break points to scramble to deuce. But it’s a case of two steps forward, one step back for the Romanian as Muguruza brings up a third break point. Halep gets back to deuce once more before getting to game point for the first time. Jeu Halep. A gutsy hold. The Romanian contingent in the crowd break into a chant of: “SIMONA, SIMONA, SIMONA.”
First set: *Halep 1-0 Muguruza
Halep, waiting to receive, is springing up and down behind the baseline like Zebedee. Perhaps it puts Muguruza off, because the Spaniard throws in a couple of unforced errors and it’s 0-30. She finds her range on the third point though, and after an 11-shot rally, Halep goes wide. 15-30. An unreturned serve, 30-all. Muguruza overcooks a backhand. 30-40. An early break point. Already you can see this is a very different match for Muguruza than it was against Sharapova. Halep will run and run, and make Muguruza work hard for the points. Muguruza meekly surrenders the break with a double fault.
Tik! Tok! Tikity! Tok! They’re warming up. Muguruza looks a little nervous. I’m not sure why. She’s lost only 20 games coming into this semi-final.
And they’re out. Muguruza is introduced first, followed by Halep. The latter wins the toss and opts to receive.
Katy here. Thanks John for stepping in. And thanks to Del Potro and Cilic for doing the courteous thing by finishing in time for us to focus on the first of the women’s semi-finals, which is being billed on the Roland Garros Twitter feed as “le Yin et le Yang”. It’s the 2016 champion, Garbiñe Muguruza, against the two-times runner-up and world No 1, Simona Halep, who is desperate to shake that grand slam-sized monkey off her back at her favourite tournament.
Muguruza marmalised Maria Sharapova yesterday for the loss of only three games and, if the Spaniard’s power game is fully firing again today, Halep may not stand much of a chance. But the Romanian has the greater variety and, if she can move Muguruza around and make this a battle of wits, she’s very much in the reckoning.
Halep trails Muguruza 3-1 in the head-to-head but, importantly, her one victory was the only match they’ve played on clay. The world No 1 ranking is also on the line today but, even if Halep beats Muguruza to retain it, I’m sure she’d trade it in for that elusive slam title on Saturday.
Del Potro speaks, in tears, and addresses the crowd
It’s tough to speak now. I am so (sobs)…It has been a long time without a good feeling in my body. I have had three surgeries on my left wrist and I was close to quitting. I don’t have any words. It’s so good for my team and my family. It was very important to have the support of my family and friends and the love of you guys, you make me so happy. I am so proud to be playing tennis. I feel at home here. Merci beaucoup.
So, Del Potro will meet Nadal in the semi-final, his first at Roland Garros in nine years.
He cruises to match point and takes it at the first opportunity. Cilic gets angry with himself and barks out some Serbo-Croat invective after another unenforced error for the first point. He looks positively glum after another to make it 30-0 to Del Potro. Then comes another overhit shot to hand over three match points. Then Del Potro booms a serve that Cilic can only balloon back. The job is swiftly finished.
Del Potro breaks Cilic and will serve for the match! Del Potro surges to 0-40 and has three break points. Plenty of Argentine support for him but the first is wasted by a loose forehand. Cilic goes long to make it 6-5 to the Argentinian.
5-5 – no break there. Del Potro begins with two aces before we at last get something of a rally. That ends when Cilic rattles into the net for 40-0. He eventually wins the game with a sliced backhand that drops millimetres over the net cord and spins back. A piece of unexpected delicacy.
Not much fun out there for those who like service to be returned. Cilic serves to love to make it 5-4 in the fourth. Del Potro must hold the next or it’s a fifth set.
Some massive hitting here. Del Potro blasts his way to 4-4 off his serve. Cilic sent scrabbling on the one occasion he got near a Del Potro serve.
Cilic booms through his service game to take it to 4-3. He does though miss a gaping winner when smashing the ball off the frame. An ace dulls the embarrassment.
Del Potro holds. Just. It’s 3-3 in the fourth. Cilic is going for the big shots, risking it all but Del Potro, at 30-30 produces a thudding ace. But he then goes long with a backhand to go to deuce. Then Cilic is loose with his own backhand to hand Del Potro an advantage he seizes on.
Here’s Kevin Mitchell’s report from Roland Garros on Nadal.
I’m off for a quick lunch break before the women’s semi-finals. John Brewin will guide you through the fourth set of Del Potro v Cilic.
Tomorrow will be Nadal’s 11th French Open semi-final. He’s won the other 10. Having shown some vulnerability yesterday, can he be denied another Roland Garros crown? I’d fancy Del Potro to trouble Nadal more than Cilic – and at the moment it’s Del Potro who’s on course to meet Nadal. But the only man remaining in draw to have defeated Nadal on clay is Dominic Thiem – including in the Madrid quarter-finals recently. That was best of three. Does the Austrian have physical and mental stamina to get the better of Nadal over five sets in what would be his first grand slam final? Of course Thiem must first get past Marco Cecchinato in the semi-finals. Cecchinato should be comfortably beaten but never say never after the world No 72’s performance against Novak Djokovic.
So that was a match of two Rafas. After a subdued performance before yesterday’s rain, he was transformed into the player who has won 10 titles at Roland Garros. He can thank the rain gods. There again he is the God in this realm. He probably made it rain yesterday.
Nadal’s more likely opponent is Del Potro, who’s taken a two sets to one lead over Cilic on Lenglen. Relatively straightforward the third set was too, after the way the first and second sets went. They’ve been going at each other for three hours now.
Diego’s a good friend, a really good player. It wasn’t easy. I wish him all the best for the future. I played at a better level after the rain, I’m happy to reach another semi-final. It’s a great emotion to play here. I’ve got to play again tomorrow, it’ll be difficult whoever I play.
Nadal goes wide and here’s a third break point. There’s another chant of “DIEGO, DIEGO, DIEGO” around the stadium, which probably displeases Nadal. He’s used to being the King in these parts, after all. And he shows why as he biffs a backhand winner down the line. Deuce. His advantage, another match point. And this time he’s jumping and fist pumping as he finally finishes Schwartzman off! The pair do their best little and large impression as they embrace at the net.
Fourth set: *Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 5-2 Schwartzman
So Nadal has stepped up to the plate to serve for a place in yet another French Open semi-final. 15-0. 30-0. Schwartzman reduces his arrears with an aggressive cross-court backhand, which Nadal blazes into the tramlines. 30-15. 40-15. Two match points. Nadal taps the clay off his shoes, fiddles with his shorts, ears and face for good measure before serving, but the rally ends with a Nadal error! As does the next! Mon dieu. Deuce. Advantage Schwartzman! From two match points to a break point. The pair engage in some tête-à-tête at the net and Nadal survives. Deuce. Advantage Schwartzman! Deuce, as a relentless Nadal pounds, pounds, pounds away with his forehand …
A remarkable stat from Cilic v Del Potro:
Fourth set: *Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 5-2 Schwartzman
… and here’s a third deuce. A chant of “DIEGO, DIEGO, DIEGO” rings round Chatrier. And he’s got his arms in the air, milking the applause, after a ferocious forehand on the run. Schwartzman’s advantage. A fourth deuce. It does feel like Schwartzman is delaying the inevitable, but who can blame him for making the most of his moment. He wins the next two points and escapes with the hold.
Fourth set: Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 5-1 Schwartzman*
So Schwartzman is serving to stay in this quarter-final. At 30-15, Nadal, like a spider weaving his web, spins a vicious forehand winner down the line. Surely it won’t be long before Schwartzman is his prey. 30-all. Schwartzman appears all caught up at 30-40 – match point – but he wriggles free. Deuce. Schwartzman’s advantage. A second deuce. Schwartzman’s advantage. The effort that the Argentinian is having to put in to win these points …