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Tennis | WTA

Simona Halep © Gallo Images

Halep closes on top spot with Beijing rout

Simona Halep took a step nearer to overhauling Garbine Muguruza as world No 1 when the Romanian raced into the semifinals of the China Open on Friday.

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.

But Halep is in red-hot form and claimed the scalp of former number one 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.

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.


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