China Open: Halep overhauls Kasatkina, closes on top spot

Simona Halep took a step nearer overhauling Garbine Muguruza as world number one when the Romanian raced into the semifinals of the China Open on Friday.

Halep is in red-hot form and claimed the scalp of former number one Maria Sharapova in the previous round -- beating the Russian at the eighth attempt.   -  AFP

Simona Halep is on the cusp of overhauling Garbine Muguruza as World No. 1 after the Romanian raced into the semifinals of the China Open in the women's draw. The second-ranked Halep eased past Russia's unseeded Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1 in 69 minutes and will face Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko.

Halep, 26, could potentially usurp Muguruza at the top if she reaches the final in Beijing, although current No. 3 Elina Svitolina is also in the mix. Halep and Ostapenko met at the French Open earlier this year, with the Latvian winning the duel.

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But Halep is in red-hot form and claimed the scalp of former No. 1 Maria Sharapova earlier this week, beating the Russian at the eighth attempt.

Ostapenko says Halep will be expected to win this time, but added: "If I play my best and I stay aggressive tomorrow and I am consistent, I think everything can happen."

 

Petra Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champion from the Czech Republic, faces Caroline Garcia of France or Ukraine's Svitolina in the other semifinal.

They play later on Friday.

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Kvitova said with the end of the season in sight, many players are running on empty. But the 27-year-old had five months out after suffering a wound to her playing hand when she was attacked in her home and hopes she might be fresher as a result. "Maybe I still do have energy to play," she said.