French Open Highlights: Sloane Stephens advanced to her maiden French Open final by beating Madison Keys in a repeat of the 2017 US Open final, which also produced the same outcome. She will thus take on Simona Halep who beat Garbine Muguruza in straight sets. Muguruza had come into the final without dropping a set but looked clueless to Halep’s bold play from the back of the court. Stephens will be looking to win her second Grand Slam while Halep will chase her first. In the men’s department, Rafa Nadal closed out his quarterfinal against Diego Schwartzman but not before question marks were raised over his serve as he finally admitted to some nerves. In the other quarterfinal, Juan Martin del Potro took his win-loss tally over Marin Cilic to 11-2 with a four-set win.
French Open 2018 Highlights, Day 12 Updates from Roland Garros:
FRIDAY'S ORDER OF PLAY
Friday's Order of Play
1pm local/4.30 PM IST
Marco Cecchinato (ITA) vs Dominic Thiem 
Not before 3.30pm local/7 PM IST
Rafael Nadal  vs Juan Martin Del Potro 
Only for the first time since 2001 that an American not bearing the last name 'Williams' has advanced to the final at Roland Garros. That year it was Jennifer Capriati (and she won to beat Belgium's Kim Clijsters)
Halep vs Stephens
A quick look ahead to the final: Halep leads head-to-head 5-2 (all straight sets) including last 8 sets and all 4 on clay. Should both players bring in their A-Game it promises to be a great match up. But if Halep's form today and usually in Paris is taken into account, she should race away with it come Saturday. Our focus, meanwhile, will be on the men's semifinal tomorrow. Until then, Au Revoir!
Sloane Stephens in the post-match interview
Sloane Stephens after the match: "It’s always hard to play someone from your country and such a good friend, so I’m pleased to get through that. It’s another great opportunity on Saturday and I’m really looking forward to it."
Sloane Stephens is into the final!
Sloane Stephens serving for the match again: Madison Keys sends her backhand long and Stephens is off to a decent start. Has to be composed to hold now. Keys tries to go for too much on the forehand and it goes long. Two points away... Sloane with an error from the back. Sends her forehand long and it is 30-15. Keys with a poor forehand attempt. Tried to go for the sideline but it is wide and wild. Match points. WINS IT! Sloane Stephens with a deep backhand return into the back of the court for a winner. Sloane Stephens is into the final with a 6-4, 6-4 win in an hour and 17 minutes. Repeat result of the 2017 US Open final then.
FINAL SET: Simona Halep vs Sloane Stephens
Keys serving at 3-5 in the second set: Sloane Stephens with a backhand winner down the line makes t 15-15. But Keys looks more confident suddenly. Big serve followed by a forehand winner. And more of the same to bring up game point. POW! Keys with a superb forehand winner cross court with nothing that Sloane could do to get back. HOLD!
Sloane Stephens serving for the match at 5-2 in the second set. Starts off with a delightful drop shot angle to a drop shot as well. Keys tries to get it back but only ends up netting it. Keys comes with a thundering forehand winner on the serve to make it 15-15. Keys finally getting something into the match. A backhand cross court winner and she is trying to stay alive in this. But a poor service return sails long to make it 30-30. Another exchange from the back and Stephens sends her forehand into the net. Break point Keys. Drop shot from Keys and Sloane tries to slide it into it with a drop shot back but it is into the net. BREAK! Keys reduces the deficit to 3-5 but still has one break to get back
Stephens wins first set
In 37 minutes, Sloane Stephens wins the opening set 6-4. Madison Keys shanks her forehand into the net and that's another comfortable hold going the US Open champions' way. At Flushing Meadows, Stephens had won 6-3, 6-0. Keys has done better this time. But needs something much better to get back into this match
Stephens holds to lead 4-2
Madison Keys sends her backhand long and Sloane Stephens continues to maintain her lead in the opening set. Keys unable to get into the match with much vigour.
Sloane Stephens has an early break of serve in the first set. She leads 3-2 as the players take their seat. Keys making quite a few errors early on and Sloane won't mind. For the Parisian crowd, it's a tricky choice - which American do they back? Both players have quite similar approach. Not that it is much of a crowd to be fair. Much emptier than what it was half hour back when Muguruza and Halep went hammer and tongs.
Will Halep finally win?
Simona Halep, the World No 1, has reached the final at Roland Garros twice. In 2014 and last year. Back in 2014, it was Maria Sharapova who stood in her path. And last year, it was an unknown Jelena Ostapenko. But this time, it will be a known name in either Madison Keys or Sloane Stephens. Earlier in 2018 as well, Halep looked to have the measure of Caroline Wozniacki in Melbourne but the Dane held firm to win a dramatic final. Is it Halep's time finally?
Halep after the match
Simona Halep after winning the semifinal: "I’m really, really happy that I won this match. It was really important for my mind to know I could win against a great opponent. It’s a pleasure to play here. I’m happy to play the final again at my favourite grand slam. I’ll try my best and hopefully do better than last year."
SIMONA HALEP INTO THE FINAL
For a second straight year, Simona Halep is into the final of the French Open. She beats Garbine Muguruza, who had looked superb all tournament, in straight sets - 6-1, 6-4. What an incredible display of turning offence into defence and then offence again. Muguruza's backhand goes long and Halep will have a chance to win her first Grand Slam (once again)
After dropping the first set and looking extremely erratic, Muguruza looks far better in the second set. She's had support from Halep who is making errors and going for far too much at times. An ace down the tee and she now leads 4-2.
Halep wins first set
Halep fails to hold serve to win the first set with a bagel but breaks Muguruza once again with a forehand winner into open court. Takes the opening set 6-1 and that's the first set the Spaniard has dropped this tournament
Dream start for Simona
Halep with a gorgeous start! An ace down the tee and she has taken a 4-0 lead in the first set over Garbine Muguruza. Up 4-0, up two breaks of serve. How to start a semifinal, courtesy Simona Halep!
Muguruza has Halep on the run and the forehand return is wild and wide. Brings up two break back points for the Spaniard. One break point saved - the serve return is long. On to 30-40. Another one goes begging. Second serve, down the tee and the forehand return is well wide. Deuce. An aggressive point by Muguruza next to move up after a deep shot and Halep nets her backhand. Brings up another break point. Muguruza with a backhand error after trading blows from the back. Back to deuce. Huge return on the forehand is not made the most of by Garbine. Sends her backhand into the net. Muguruza makes an error on the forehand now and Halep holds.
Not the best start for Garbine Muguruza. She hands the early break to Halep and with a double fault at that. Not how you want to start the semifinal and against a player you don't want to hand momentum to.
Muguruza vs Halep
Women's semifinals underway. Garbine Muguruza is introduced first, followed by Simona Halep. The Romanian wins the toss and opts to receive.
Del Potro after the match
Juan Martin del Potro speaks to Fabrice Santoro after the match: "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."
The men's singles semifinals are set:
Dominic Thiem vs Marco Cecchinato
Rafael Nadal vs Juan Martin del Potro
Thiem is in his third semis in Roland Garros, Cecchinato his first, Nadal his 11th and Del Potro a second (first since 2009)
Del Potro wins!
Juan Martin del Potro serving for the match at 6-5 in the fourth set. Cilic goes for a touch too much with his backhand. Tries to find the sideline but it is marginally wide. Another backhand error and it is now 30-0. Unforced errors climbing and three match points for Del Potro. Cilic sends his forehand wide after Del Potro pushes him out of the court. Raises his arms and the crowd applauds and the Tower of Tandil stands tall! Del Potro wins 7-6, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5. Will face Nadal in the semifinals
Del Potro breaks!
Three breaks for Del Potro at 5-5 in the fourth set. Cilic has Del Potro on the run and the forehand on the move goes long. One break point saved. And this time Cilic cracks and sends his backhand well long. When the players get up, Del Potro will serve for the match!
Nadal speaking in presser
Rafa Nadal in the press conference: "(favourite World Cup memory) 2010 (when Spain beat Netherlands). I was in the stadium for the final."
Nadal after the match
Rafa Nadal in the post-match interaction: "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 after the match
Rafa Nadal in the post-match interview: "I played with more stress on Wednesday. Why stress? I am a human being"
Del Potro wins third set
Juan Martin del Potro is two sets to one up having won the third set 6-2 and remains on serve in the fourth set at 1-2.
History maker Rafa
Rafa Nadal becomes the third man in the Open Era to advance to 11 semi-finals at one Grand Slam championship (also Jimmy Connors & Roger Federer)
Nadal serving for the match at 5-2. Rafa with a thumping forehand to bring out a loopy response and rushes at the net to put away. Schwartzman with a wild forehand that is into the tramlines and it is 30-0. The Argentine keeps things going and the forehand forces Nadal into an error. Lovely one-two by Nadal - serve out wide and then a forehand winner down the line into vacant court. Brings up two match points. Nadal lets one chance go with a backhand error. Rafa with yet another forehand error and two match points go waste. Deuce. Schwartzman with a forehand winner into open court after a neat deep backhand return on the serve. Break point. Saved! Nadal with deft hands with a lovely drop shot and it is followed by a push into open court. Back to deuce. WOWZA! Schwartzman backhand is still alive and kicking. Superb power on the shot and Nadal can't chase it down. Another break point chance. And it is saved once again. Forehand whip for a winner as Schwartzman scrambles. Deuce. Nadal sends his backhand into the tramlines and third break point chance for the Argentine. Nadal keeps hitting it out on the ad-court. Backhand winner into open court and that's another break point saved. Schwartzman errs and it is match point for Rafa. Into the 11th minute in this game. WINS IT! Rafa with a gorgeous forehand winner past Schwartzman. This match has been a feast of groundstrokes. After 3 hours and 42 minutes, Nadal wins 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 and is into the semis
Loud chants of 'Diego, Diego, Diego' ring around the stadium as Schwartzman tries to keep himself in the match with Nadal coming back repeatedly. Creating chances by serving well on the deuce side but Nadal thumping it on the ad-side to keep the game alive. The Argentine finally holds with a winner down the line and Nadal will now serve for the match at 5-2
Nadal in cruise control
Nadal is in command into the fourth set. Schwartzman is out of his depth and the useful backhand has gone missing. Not finding the angles and depth as he was earlier. Unforced errors climbing. And Nadal breaks to go 4-1 up in the fourth set
Cilic wins second set
Cilic serves for the second set but Del Potro breaks. Then Del Potro serves to consolidate that advantage and Cilic roars back. Now Cilic serving for the second set once again. Del Potro sends his backhand long and Cilic levels the match at one set all by taking the second 7-5.
Nadal wins third set
Rafa Nadal serving for the third set. Schwartzman, with his nifty angles, has put pressure on the Nadal serve. But the unforced error from the Argentine's backhand and he throws away the break point opportunity. WHAT A RALLY! Nadal comes from out of the point, digging it out of nowhere with a forehand that kept him in and the 19-stroke rally goes the Spaniard's way when Schwartzman nets his backhand. What has one go to do? Back to deuce. Schwartzman with a gorgeous backhand behind Nadal who looked to be moving on his forehand side. Brings up yet another break point. Meanwhile, this game has been going on for 11 minutes. And counting. Nadal with a superb drop shot followed by a deep return and then another drop with Diego in the back of the court. Nadal sends his forehand long, and the unforced error brings up another break point. Fourth break point for Schwartzman. Poor return from Diego and it is tamely into the net. Nadal brings it back to deuce - the fifth deuce. This game has been going on for 13 minutes.. Schwartzman sends his forehand wide and it brings up second set point for Rafa. Schwartzman goes for a touch too much on the backhand and it sails long. NADAL WINS THE THIRD SET 6-2 and is now two sets to one up.
Cilic and Del Potro staying on serve in the second after the Argentine bagged the opener 7-5 in the tiebreak. Cilic to serve at 3-4 in the second set
Del Potro leads
In the other overnight match, Juan Martin del Potro and Marin Cilic are going neck to neck! Del Potro won the first set 7-6 and now leads 3-2 in the second
Rafael Nadal is looking very good. Schwartzman a completely different player what he was yesterday. Nadal takes the ninth game of the set and now lead 5-1 in the third set as Schwartzman cannot return. Nadal leads 4-6 6-3 5-1
Nadal 2-1 in third
Nadal began with a break against Schwartzman in the third set and then got the hold. But Schwartzman has pulled one back with a hold and now Nadal leads 2-1
Nadal pockets second set
Rafael Nadal was leading 5-3 in the second set after dropping the first and he pockets the second easily. He has levelled the match one-set all. Third set begins with Schwartzman serving