Published: Sun, August 20, 2017
Sport | By Cecil Buchanan

Simona Halep keeps hopes alive of becoming world No 1 in Cincinnati

Simona Halep keeps hopes alive of becoming world No 1 in Cincinnati

Second-seeded Simona Halep became the tournament's first quarterfinalist with a 6-4, 6-3 win over 15th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova.

The results (third round): Men: Grigor Dimitrov bt Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 7-5; Yuichi Sugita bt Karen Khachanov 6-7 (0), 6-3, 6-3; David Ferrer bt Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4, 6-4; Jared Donaldson bt Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 7-6 (4); Dominic Thiem bt Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3); John Isner bt Frances Tiafoe 7-6 (4), 7-5.

To reach the coveted top ranking and win the W&S Open for the first time, Halep must successfully navigate the challenges Muguruza presents.

"And now another very, very hard match", Nadal said as he left the court.

"I just have, in my opinion, to be like today with the desire of winning with confidence and positive things. From the first point, I felt like I was going to play good tennis".

The final will be the first on American soil for Muguruza, who lost to Pliskova in last year's Cincinnati semifinals.

Muguruza will play for her fifth career title Sunday against the victor of a later match between Romania´s second-ranked Simona Halep and 151st-ranked United States wildcard Sloane Stephens.

"I have been so many times to this place, it's like my home", she said. "I was hoping to get it and my concentration was really good. Everything went my way".

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Muguruza promptly went up a break as Pliskova slogged through unforced errors.

Sixth-ranked Spaniard Muguruza ousted Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 5-7, 7-5 in a matchup of two-time Grand Slam winners that lasted two hours, 45 minutes. That followed a 2-hour, 18-minute win over Madison Keys on Thursday, when she fought off three match points. Five hours later, he was back on court against Nick Kyrgios, who had won a three-set match earlier in the day.

"I definitely had to stay away a little bit from that forehand".

During a first-set changeover she told her coach Kamau Murray that she was having trouble getting her feet moving.

Muguruza took charge early, breaking Pliskova in the first and last games of the first set.

The top seeds at the Western & Southern Open waited hours through rain before their matches were postponed late Thursday night, setting up a chaotic weekend finish.

"That's never easy", she said. "I didn't play well". "It's just lucky that I always won both of them". I think in the end of the match, it was just a few points that made the biggest difference for me.

"To be No. 1 after all the things I've been going through the last couple years is something unbelievable", Nadal said.

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