Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep meet in the semifinals of the 2018 tennis French Open.
And it was Sharapova who looked the rustier, with two limp service games handing Muguruza an immediate 4-0 lead and consequently the first set.
Muguruza leads Halep 3-1 head-to-head, but this is their first grand slam match-up.
Half an hour later 1-0 had become 6-1 and the challenge of Muguruza, who would have taken over at the top of the rankings with victory, appeared to be fading fast.
Halep who will also keep hold of the world number one ranking as a result of the victory, made a flying start and was 5-0 in quick time as Muguruza made some wild errors.
The former world number one drilled a backhand victor down the line to hold again in the next game, the 28th seed clenching her fist as she walked to the chair.
It was 5-0 by the time Muguruza eventually claimed a game. However, this is usually the point in grand slams where Halep falls apart, so it's going to be interesting if the Romanian can finally close the deal on the big stage and put herself in elite company. Nadal ended the Argentinian's run at the U.S. Open past year with a four-set victory. If she can channel that same degree of aplomb and expertise in the semi, Halep doesn't have much of a chance.
In the first all-American Roland Garros semi-final since 2002, the 10th-seeded Stephens stayed composed throughout as Keys, who has not won a set against her in three meetings, peppered the court with unforced errors.
I think it's tough to just assess a single tournament.
"I started in the first set not matching her level", said Muguruza, the reigning Wimbledon champion. "I'm happy with that", the 24-year-old said.
Furthermore, Halep's data on return yesterday was similarly strong, creating 17 break points on the usually strong Kerber serve across 15 return games, and it took a resolute performance by the German to take that first set to a breaker. She knows she needs to win one of these Slams, and she's confronted this missing element head-on.
"I don't know that I would call the hard road", Murray said.
There were no such fireworks this time, though, with Halep sealing a 6-7 (7-2) 6-3 6-2 victory.
But Keys, who made 23 unforced errors in the first set, hit back hard and set up a break point at 3-2, only for Stephens to save it with a service return victor. "I think my body will need a little bit of rest, but mentally I'm ready to go", said five-time major victor Sharapova.