China Open: Rafael Nadal to face Nick Kyrgios in final, Caroline Garcia aims for second straight title

Beijing: Rafael Nadal will play for his sixth title of the year and Simona Halep took over the top ranking by reaching the final in the China Open.

Nadal defeated Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 Saturday in the semifinals. Halep beat Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4 to become the first Romanian No 1 when the rankings are released on Monday.

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

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after beating Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in their men's singles semifinal match in the China Open tennis tournament at the Diamond Court in Beijing, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Rafael Nadal celebrates after beating Grigor Dimitrov in the China Open semi-final. AP

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.

To win a sixth title this season, Nadal must beat the enigmatic Nick Kyrgios, who is becoming a crowd favourite in Beijing.

A year ago the 22-year-old was suspended by tennis authorities for his behaviour in a defeat in Shanghai during which he appeared to give up and argued with the crowd.

Kyrgios says he wants to show how far he has come and the 19th-ranked Australian did just that as he bustled past Zverev, the World No 4 from Germany, in an entertaining and high-quality semi-final.

Kyrgios's exuberance won favour with the crowd in the Chinese capital and after winning one thrilling rally he turned to the spectators and gestured with flailing arms for them to keep roaring him on.

In contrast, Zverev smashed his racquet on the floor, earning a warning from the umpire, when Kyrgios grabbed the decisive break in the second set.

Halep 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. Muguruza retired during her opening match on Monday because of a cold.

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

The Romanian will be looking for her second title of the year after winning in Madrid.

Halep will though face a tough test in the final against Garcia, who is chasing successive titles after winning the Wuhan Open last weekend.

The unseeded Garcia defeated Czech 12th seed Petra Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champion, 6-3, 7-5.

With inputs from AP and AFP

Updated Date: Oct 07, 2017 21:06 PM

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