• Halep seeks No. 1 in WTA Cincinnati

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    Simona Halep
    AFP PHOTO

    CINCINNATI: Simona Halep has her third chance of the season to claim the world number one ranking after beating Sloane Stephens, 6-2, 6-1, on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to reach the WTA and ATP Cincinnati Masters finals.

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    The second-ranked Romanian tries to become the 24th different woman atop the list by winning Sunday’s final against Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, who ousted top-ranked Czech defending champion Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2.

    “If it’s going to happen, great, but if not I will have more opportunities. Hopefully I can do it. I have the desire,” Halep said. “I am so close. I really want that.”

    Australia’s 23rd-ranked Nick Kyrgios and Bulgaria’s 11th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov advanced to the men’s final, where Sunday’s winner will claim his first ATP Masters crown.

    Kyrgios eliminated Spain’s David Ferrer 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) while Dimitrov dispatched 19th-ranked American John Isner 7-6 (4), 7-6 (10).

    “I’m obviously excited but it’s just another tennis match for me,” Kyrgios said. “I’m going to go out there and compete and whatever happens happens.”

    Dimitrov won his only meeting with Kyrgios in the second round at Indian Wells in 2015.

    Halep, who hasn’t dropped a set all week, has already lost twice this year playing for the top ranking, falling in the French Open final against Jelena Ostapenko and the Wimbledon quarterfinal against Johanna Konta, each time after taking the first set.

    “Maybe tomorrow is my turn,” Halep said.

    “I have to give my best and fight and if I win it’s going to be really special. It’s a great opportunity. But for sure it’s going to be a tough match against a Grand Slam champion.

    “It’s a big challenge. It’s a big match.”

    Halep says while she is confident her rise to the top will come, she wants to win it for herself.

    “I know if I keep this level, it’s going to come. If not tomorrow, maybe next weeks,” she said. “I can keep hoping for that, but I don’t want to do that, actually. I want to win it… it’s going to be more special and nicer for me.

    “My first goal was a Grand Slam title, and it’s still the first goal. But now being very close, it’s maybe the most important thing in this period.”

    Serena Williams had been number one before her pregnancy break earlier this year. Germany’s Angelique Kerber and Pliskova have held the spot since.

    Kyrgios, 22, jumped ahead 4-1 in each tie-breaker, closing out the first set with a forehand winner and the last when Ferrer hit a backhand long.

    “My record in tie-breakers is pretty good,” Kyrgios said. “I know if I serve well and play the right way, I’ve got a fair chance.”

    AFP

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