The last time Halep and Muguruza met on the court was during the Cincinnati final in August 2017 - once again with the No 1 ranking for Halep in reach, had she won.
While Halep's slump from a set and 3-0 up against Jelena Ostapenko at Roland Garros was in the full glare of the world's media, Stephens's own professional crisis was more private but just as devastating.
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The 10th-seeded Stephens will bid for her second major title when she takes on Halep.
Ahead of the French Open 2018 clash, the 23-time Grand Slam victor called out the parts related to her in Sharapova's autobiography as "hearsay". At the Miami Open in March, she won the title, beating four major champions in a row.
Simona Halep went from out-of-sorts to on-target against Angelique Kerber, scrambling to every ball and staying the course to erase an early deficit.
Keys said before their semifinal meeting at Roland Garros that her 6-3, 6-0 loss in September's decider at Flushing Meadows felt like it was "12 years ago". Keys predicted, "I'm going to have to be the one to try to open up the court and go for my shots". Halep saved two match points to win that one. The 25-year-old displayed exactly that against Russian youngster Daria Kasatkina on Tuesday and there was no getting past the 2017 US Open champion anymore in the second set."Sometimes I start well and sometimes a little sluggish".
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Firstly, Halep has been the tournament favourite for virtually the entire event. Some of this is X's and O's; Sloane makes you hit the extra ball and has played terrific tennis in the matches, and Keys has missed too much.
"When you're writing an autobiography, I don't think there is any reason to write anything that's not true", Sharapova said. "Just one of those days where I think she played incredibly well". She said she expected an intense match against Sharapova, and, in a way, it was - intensely straightforward and efficient.
"It's really hard to play against a great friend, but I am pleased to be in the final for the first time", said Stephens who will rise to four in the world thanks to her deepest run in the French capital. Sharapova had 27 unforced errors and had her serve broken six times.
Halep was my pick to win the French Open, and I truly hope she finally gets the money off her back. "It was before because I really wanted to get there, but now my goals are different". And it's always tough against her. Moving sluggishly and playing dozily, Muguruza managed a single game in the first set, which she finished with a tally of just two clean winners and 14 unforced errors. The key game was the 13-minute ninth at 4-4 when Halep just clung on to her serve, and the disappointment seemed to get to her opponent, who subsided to defeat the game afterwards.
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"Life came at me fast after the U.S. Open", said Stephens, whose late father, John, was the 1988 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year with the New England Patriots.