China Open: Simona Halep moves closer to World No 1 ranking with win over Daria Kasatkina
Halep is in red-hot form and claimed the scalp of former No 1 Maria Sharapova in the previous round — beating the Russian in her eighth attempt.
Beijing: Simona Halep took a step nearer overhauling Garbine Muguruza as World No 1 when the Romanian raced into the semi-finals of the China Open on Friday.
The second-ranked Halep eased past Russia's unseeded Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1 in 69 minutes in Beijing and will face compatriot Sorana Cirstea or Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko in the last four.
The Spaniard Muguruza's short stay at the top is under severe threat after she bowed out in the first round in the Chinese capital with a virus.
Halep is in red-hot form and claimed the scalp of former No 1 Maria Sharapova in the previous round — beating the Russian at the eighth attempt.
Third seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria was the first into the semi-finals of the men's draw when he battled past the Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-2.
Dimitrov will play World No 1 Rafael Nadal in the last four.
The Australian, who turns 25 on Saturday, rallied after a dream first set in the quarter-final from Pliskova, who broke Barty twice.
A message from the tournament's official twitter account read: "Novak Djokovic will not be playing in the Mutua Madrid Open. 'Sorry that I won’t be able to travel to Madrid this year and meet all my fans”, said Djokovic. 'It’s been two years already, quite a long time. Hope to see you all next year!'".
The 34-year-old Nadal, who suffered a surprise quarter-final exit at the hands of Andrey Rublev in the Monte Carlo Masters quarter-finals last week, dropped the first set against the world 111 before pulling through 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.