Nadal chases 6th title of year, Halep secures top ranking

Simon Halep of Romania celebrates defeating Jelena Ostapenko of Lativa to secure her world number one ranking after the women's singles semi-final match in the China Open tennis tournament at the Diamond Court in Beijing, China, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Top-seeded Rafael Nadal will play for his sixth title of the year after defeating third-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 Saturday in the China Open semifinals.

The French Open and U.S. Open champion is one of three men to win five titles this year, along with Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev.

Nadal, the 2005 China Open champion, has a tour-leading 60 match wins in 2017.

Nadal held serve at love in his first three service games against Dimitrov and saved two break points in the seventh game.

Dimitrov hit a backhand crosscourt winner to take the second set on Nadal’s serve in the 10th game.

Nadal took immediate control of the third set, racing to a 4-0 lead.

The Spaniard will play either second-seeded Zverev or eighth-seeded Nick Kyrgios of Australia in Sunday’s final.

On the women’s side, Simona Halep beat ninth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4 in the semifinals to guarantee the Romanian will take over the top spot for the first time in her career when the rankings are released Monday.

Halep will become the first Romanian woman to achieve the feat. She could have reached the No. 1 ranking 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 in Beijing. ”And I have 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 of Ukraine in the final – to knock Garbine Muguruza from the top spot.

Svitolina was ousted by unseeded Caroline Garcia of France in a marathon quarterfinal encounter.

Halep will play the winner of the semifinal between Garcia and 12th-seeded Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic. The Romanian will be looking for her second title of the year after winning in Madrid.

Ostapenko entered the semifinal without the loss of a set during the week. But Halep dominated the first set, breaking Ostapenko’s serve in the first game at love. She cemented her lead with another break in the seventh game for a 5-2 lead to serve out the set.

In the second set, Halep surrendered a 3-2 lead with a service break in the sixth game, but went on to break serve again in the ninth game. At 40-0 in the final game, Halep won with a clean forehand winner down the line.