Halep breaks Sharapova curse, cruises into last eight — WTA Beijing

Beth Cruz
October 8, 2017

The Romanian beat French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4 to make her way into the final where she will face the victor of Petra Kvitova and Caroline Garcia.

For Halep, who went into the semi-final on Beijing's outdoor hard courts as world number two, victory was revenge after Ostapenko won their duel in the French Open final earlier this year. She also makes history, as she will become the 25th WTA world No. 1 when the rankings update on Monday.

Halep, beaten by Sharapova in the US Open first round, won five of nine break points and took advantage of an error-prone display to hand the Russian her first straight-sets defeat of the season in an hour and 12 minutes.

As she becomes the world No. 1, Halep leaps past Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.

Showing off an improved serve, Halep handled Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4, and previously in the tournament notched her first-ever win over rival Maria Sharapova, exorcising two major demons in the same week.

"I expect a tough one, but it's going to be a big challenge either way, so I have to think what I have to play against them, and just try to do my job like I did today", Halep said.

After Halep had broken for a 3-2 lead in Saturday's second set, Ostapenko briefly found top form, immediately getting back on level terms before holding confidently.

She could yet be joined by Wuhan Open champion Caroline Garcia, who boosted her chances with a 7-6 (7/4) 6-4 victory over Elise Mertens.

"Of course it's the best moment in my life, and I want just to keep it", Halep told reporters in Beijing. Her win advanced her to the quarterfinals.

She next faces on China's Peng Shuai, who made short work of Romanian Monica Niculescu with a 6-3 6-2 win.

In the men's tournament, top seed Rafael Nadal battled past Bulgarian Grigor Dmitrov in three sets in a gruelling semi-final encounter.

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