Simona Halep is the new world No.1

Published by Leigh Rogers

ON TOP: Simona Halep will become world No.1 after reaching the China Open final; Getty Images

Simona Halep will rise to world No.1 next week.

The Romanian sealed her ascension with an impressive 6-2 6-4 victory over Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko in the China Open semifinals today.

Halep needed to win the match to overtake Spaniard Garbine Muguruza, who has held the No.1 spot for the past four weeks. It was the fourth time this season that Halep had got within one win of the coveted spot, but this time she did not falter.

The No.2 seed was aggressive early, using her forehand to attack Ostapenko’s serve and showing no signs of nerves – until the second set.

Leading with an early break, Halep squandered it. She became noticeably  tighter and less aggressive. A case of history repeating? It looked possible.

“I can say that (there) was a little bit of pressure in the second set,” Halep admitted. “But I was not worried. I felt that I was dominating the match and I was controlling everything.”

The 26-year-old steadied, breaking Ostapenko in the ninth game to give herself a chance to serve for the match.

“When I was five points away, I felt that I want it more and more,” Halep said. “I try just to not think too much about that, to stop thinking, because you feel the pressure when you’re thinking too much.”

Halep did not let this opportunity slip, holding to love and sealing the match with a forehand winner.

“The last point, my legs were shaking. It’s normal. But this time I was more controlled and I did it great,” Halep said.

FEATURE: Sharapova on a changing women’s game

Halep, who hit 10 unforced errors to her opponent’s 32, becomes the first Romanian woman to be ranked No.1. She will be the fifth different player to occupy the WTA Tour’s top spot this season, the most since rankings were introduced in 1975.

“It’s the best moment in my life,” Halep said. “Now tomorrow already I have just to restart everything, to start again to play the same and to work harder.

“I have few more dreams in my career.”

DID YOU SEE: How long will Martina Hingis reign at No.1?

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