BEIJING: Simona Halep will take over as number one in the WTA world rankings after progressing to the China Open final with a dominant 6-2, 6-4 victory over Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko here on Saturday.
Halep will face unseeded Caroline Garcia in the final on Sunday (today) after the Frenchwoman beat 12th seed Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic 6-3, 7-5 in the second semi-final.
The Romanian avenged this year’s French Open final defeat by Ostapenko with a ruthless all-round display in which she hit five aces and 14 winners to oust the Latvian in 75 minutes.
“It’s very emotional, I think it’s the first time I cried on court,” Halep said.
Ostapenko produced a lacklustre performance and recorded 32 unforced errors as she failed to make any inroads on her opponent’s solid defence.
Halep also broke the 20-year-old’s serve four times, including in the first game of the match.
The Latvian showed some resistance in the second set to forge a 4-3 lead but Halep won three consecutive games to seal victory.
Wuhan Open champion Garcia raced to her 10th consecutive win to climb into the world’s top-10 as an error-strewn Kvitova recorded 11 double faults and won just 10 of 27 second serves.
The 23-year-old took a 3-0 lead in the first set to pile the pressure on Kvitova, who failed to make a comeback and lost the set.
Twice Wimbledon champion Kvitova started the second set strongly to gain a 2-0 advantage but her wayward serving cost her as Garcia levelled at 5-5 before clinching the match.
Garcia is on course to win her second consecutive title but Halep has beaten her in both their previous meetings.
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal was forced into the third set before the world number one piled the pressure on Grigor Dimitrov to reach the final.
The 31-year-old Spaniard, enjoying a late-career flourish and chasing a sixth title this season, beat off the Bulgarian third seed 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 in their semi-final on Beijing’s outside hard courts.
Nadal, good friends with Dimitrov, will face German prodigy Alexander Zverev or temperamental Australian Nick Kyrgios in Sunday’s final.
Dimitrov battled back from a set down to take it to a deciding third set. But with the crowd behind him and Dimitrov visibly tiring, the 16-time Grand Slam champion Nadal stepped up a gear to ram home his superiority.