Halep on top of the world after reaching China Open final
celebrates after Simona Halep will take over as the new 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 in Beijing on Saturday.
The Romanian avenged this year's French Open final defeat to the hard-hitting Ostapenko with a ruthless display of all-round tennis that saw her send down five aces and 14 winners to oust the 20-year-old in 75 minutes.
The 26-year-old takes over the top spot from Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and will become the first Romanian to head the rankings when the updated standings are released on Monday.
"It's very emotional, I think it's the first time I cried on court," Halep said in a post-match interview. "It's amazing that I could do this. My team, everyone at home... is watching, and I want to thank everyone. It's my special day."
Ostapenko, for her part, put on 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 Latvian'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 a victory she will remember for the rest of her life.
WTA CEO Steve Simon and tour president Micky Lawler presented Halep, who had come close to topping the rankings on three different occasions earlier this year, with a memento to mark her achievement after the match.
Halep will be looking for her second tournament victory of the season in what will be her fifth final of the year against either 12th-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic or unseeded Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia on Sunday.
Nadal battles past Dimitrov to reach fourth China Open final
World number one Rafa Nadal beat Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 4-6 6-1 in the China Open semi-finals on Saturday to reach his ninth final of the year.
The top-seeded Spaniard took control from the start, winning 13 consecutive points on his own serve and breaking Dimitrov to seal the first set in 35 minutes.
Nadal led the second 3-1 but world number eight Dimitrov fought back to level at 4-4 before clinching the set.
Bulgarian Dimitrov's eye-catching shots were not enough to overcome the 31-year-old, however, and Nadal broke serve three times in the deciding set.
The 16-times grand slam winner is on course to win his 75th singles title and will face Australian Nick Kyrgios or German Alexander Zverev in the final on Sunday.
Zverev seals ATP finals spot
World number four Alexander Zverev has booked a spot in the ATP Finals in London for the first time after progressing to the China Open semi-finals.
The 20-year-old has won five titles this year including the Italian Open and the Rogers Cup and joins world number one Rafa Nadal and Swiss Roger Federer in the finals, with five spots yet to be decided.
"I think it's great for any player to qualify for a prestigious event that we have in London," Zverev told the ATP website.
"It shows that you've been one of the best players, not only for one or two weeks in a year, but you've been one of the best players for the whole year."
Zverev is the youngest player to progress to the finals since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008 and is the first German singles player to qualify since Rainer Schuettler in 2003.
The German, second seed in Beijing, beat Russian teenager Andrey Rublev 6-2 6-3 in the quarter-finals and will face Australian eighth seed Nick Kyrgios in the semi-finals later on Saturday.