Halep in final, secures No. 1 women’s ranking
Simona Halep will take over the top ranking after reaching the China Open final Saturday, and Rafael Nadal will play Nick Kyrgios for the men’s title Sunday in Beijing.
Halep beat French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, 6-2, 6-4, ensuring that, when the WTA rankings are updated Monday, she will be the first women’s No. 1 from Romania.
Halep could have reached No. 1 earlier this year but was upset in the French Open final by Ostapenko in their first career meeting.
“Of course it’s the best moment in my life, and I want just to keep it,” Halep said. “And I have a few more dreams in my career. I tell you one, only one: to win a Grand Slam.”
Halep only had to reach the final this week — and not lose to Elina Svitolina in that final — to knock Garbine Muguruza from the top spot. Muguruza retired during her opening match Monday because of a cold.
Looking for her second title of the year after winning in Madrid, Halep will play Caroline Garcia in the final. Garcia beat Petra Kvitova, 6-3, 7-5, in the other semifinal.
On the men’s side, top-seeded Nadal defeated third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, in the semifinals, his tour-leading 60th match win.
Kyrgios didn’t drop his serve in ousting second-seeded Alexander Zverev, 6-3, 7-5, in the other semi. The Australian had an impressive 70 percent first-serve percentage and posted 11 aces to none for Zverev . . . .
David Goffin reached a second straight Japan Open final and will meet Adrian Mannarino, who beat top-seeded Marin Cilic in Tokyo.
Goffin won a tense baseline battle with Diego Schwartzman, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (8-6). Mannarino won, 6-7 (7-5), 6-4, 6-0, for his first victory against a top-five opponent.
The victory extended Goffin’s winning streak to eight matches, including four last week in Shenzhen, China, where he won his first title in over three years. PRO BASKETBALL
Connie Hawkins, a dazzling New York playground legend who soared and swooped his way to the Hall of Fame, died Friday. He was 75.
His death was announced Saturday by the Phoenix Suns, the team with which he spent his most productive NBA seasons in a career delayed for years by a point-shaving scandal that led to the league blackballing him, even though he was never directly linked to any wrongdoing.
The Suns did not disclose the cause of his death. Hawkins, who lived in the Phoenix area, had been in frail health for several years and was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2007 . . . .
Dallas Mavericks guard Seth Curry is out indefinitely after being diagnosed with a stress reaction of his left tibia . . . .
The Atlanta Hawks waived guards John Jenkins and Jordan Mathews. GOLF
PGA Tour rookie Tyler Duncan parred the 18th hole for a scrambling 1-under-par 71 to maintain a one-stroke lead after three rounds of the Safeway Open.
Duncan, whose only previous PGA Tour event was the 2015 U.S. Open, had five birdies and four birdies to reach 14-under 202 in the season opener at Silverado
Resort and Spa. Chesson Hadley, a one-time PGA Tour winner who had a course-record 61 in the second round, was a stroke back after a 70.
Bud Cauley shot 66 to join defending champion Brendan Steele (72) at 12 under . . . .
Defending tournament champion Tyrrell Hatton opened a five-shot lead heading into the final round of the European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in St. Andrews, Scotland.
A bogey-free 7-under 65 put Hatton in a commanding position to defend the title he won by four shots last year. After opening with a 68 on the Old Course on Thursday, he followed that with a 65 at Carnoustie and matched that mark at Kingsbarns to go to 18 under. Gregory Bourdy was his closest challenger at 13 under after a 66. MISC.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton secured pole position for Formula One’s Japanese Grand Prix, leading a 1-2 effort for Mercedes drivers in Suzuka.
Hamilton posted a lap-record time of 1 minute 27.319 seconds to finish 0.332 ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton’s title rival, Sebastian Vettel, was third, but the Ferrari driver will move up to second after Bottas’s penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change. Bottas will drop to seventh in Sunday’s race . . . .
Maria Paseka of Russia successfully defended her vault title at the world gymnastics championships, edging American Jade Carey at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
Kenzo Shirai of Japan, a gold medalist in the team event in the Rio Olympics, won the men’s floor exercise by more than a full point ahead of Artem Dolgopyat of Israel. American Yul Moldauer was third.