WTA Tour

French Open champ Muguruza faces Roland Garros fitness fight

Garbine Muguruza
Garbine Muguruza

Rome - Garbine Muguruza was forced to retire from her Rome semi-final against Ukraine's Elina Svitolina with a neck injury Saturday, placing a question mark over her fitness just a week out from the start of her French Open title defence.

The Spanish third seed was 1-4 down after just 22 minutes in the first set when she quit, handing the eighth-seeded Svitolina a place in Sunday's final against Romania's Simona Halep.

Muguruza had needed three sets to beat Venus Williams in the quarter-finals on Friday night.

"Well, it's not very good, obviously, because it's something that, I don't know, you do a bad movement, and suddenly your neck gets stuck," said the 23-year-old Muguruza, who was hurt in the warm-up.

It was the Spaniard's fourth retirement this year.

Muguruza had not won a clay court match all season until Rome following first round losses in Stuttgart and Madrid.

"Overall, I think it's a very good week for me, because I wasn't sure how I was going to go at the beginning of the tournament," she said. "I'm very happy in the way I played the three matches."

Svitolina, who has titles in Taiwan, Dubai and Istanbul already in 2017, said she hoped Muguruza recovers in time for Roland Garros which starts on May 28.

"I just want to wish a fast recovery to Garbine, she has such a big tournament ahead in Roland Garros which is very tough as she's the defending champion," said Svitolina.

"It's going to be very tough for her and hopefully she will recover quickly."

Sixth-seeded Halep, the champion in Madrid last weekend, reached her first final in Rome after sweeping aside Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens 7-5, 6-1 in her semi-final.

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