By Karen Price | June 07, 2018, 1:39 p.m. (ET)
Sloane Stephens celebrates after defeating Madison Keys in the semifinal of the 2018 French Open on June 7, 2018 in Paris.

 

Olympian Sloane Stephens will play for her second Grand Slam title after beating fellow 2016 U.S. Olympic Team member Madison Keys in the semifinal, 6-4, 6-4, at the French Open on Thursday.

Stephens, who defeated Keys to win the US Open last year, will face top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania in the final on Saturday. Halep, who is seeking her first Grand Slam title, beat Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in Thursday’s other semifinal, 6-1, 6-4. The 26-year-old is 0-3 in Grand Slam finals.

The US Open was Stephens’ first appearance in a Grand Slam final.

Thursday’s match between No. 10 Stephens and No. 13 Keys was much closer than their meeting at the US Open, which Stephens won, 6-3, 6-0. Keys’ 40 unforced errors made life difficult and Stephens was more controlled throughout the match, but it was still a battle that showcased how much both Americans are continuing to improve on the world stage.

“It’s always hard to play someone from your country and such a good friend so I’m really pleased to get through that and play some good tennis,” Stephens said in a post-match television interview. “This is one of my favorite tournaments and I’m so happy to be in the final here. It’s a great opportunity and I’m really looking forward to it.”

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This was the first French Open semifinal to feature two Americans since Serena Williams beat Jennifer Capriati in 2002.

Stephens, 25, broke serve in the third game of the first set then took a 3-1 lead as errors began to plague Keys, 23. Keys kept herself in it, however, trailing 4-3 and then 5-4 before Stephens took the first set.

Stephens broke serve to open the second set and went ahead 2-0. The US Open champ appeared ready to put it away at 5-2 but Keys once again battled back, breaking Stephens and then closing to 5-4. A backhand winner sealed it for Stephens.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.