Halep on top of the world

Sunday Observer - - SPORT - Goal

BEI­JING - 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 yes­ter­day.

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 s pot f r om S pa­niar d 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 lack­lus­ter per­for­mance and recorded 32 un­forced er­rors as she failed to make any in­roads on her op­po­nent’s solid de­fense. 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 43 lead but Halep won three con- sec­u­tive 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 to­day.

Si­mona Halep.

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