New number one Halep eager to retain focus

After reaching the top of the WTA rankings for the first time, Simona Halep said: "I just want to stay the same, focused, and do my job."

Simona Halep is determined not to rest on her laurels after banishing the pain of several near-misses to become world number one for the first time.

A straight-sets victory over Jelena Ostapenko in the semi-finals of the China Open means Halep will replace Garbine Muguruza at the top of the WTA rankings on Monday.

The Romanian had fallen short on three previous occasions in 2017 when a win would have taken her to number one, most notably in a defeat to Ostapenko in the French Open final.

However, Halep got the job done on Saturday, beating Ostapenko 6-2 6-4 to achieve a notable feat.

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"Of course, it's a great thing. Many others did it, and I'm one of them," said Halep following her win.

"I'm really happy about that, but I'm in the middle of my career, so I have many years ahead. I just want to stay the same, focused, and do my job.

"When I was five points away, I felt that I wanted it more and more. I tried just to not think too much about that, to stop thinking, because you feel the pressure when you're thinking too much.

"I will never forget this day or this tournament. I always get great support in China, and I'm waiting for tomorrow [Sunday] - the tournament is not finished."

After Halep had broken for a 3-2 lead in Saturday's second set, Ostapenko briefly found top form, immediately getting back on level terms before holding confidently.

That raised memories of the Latvian's remarkable triumph at Roland Garros, which saw her come from a set and 3-0 down to defeat Halep.

Yet Halep was able to quickly regain the initiative on this occasion and said: "I didn't think too much that I am again in the same position."

She added: "In the French Open I was a set and 3-0 [up], so here was a little bit different. Still, she played really well those games, those next games [after falling 3-2 down].

"I was not worried. I just tried to stay focused. I think mentally I was different, and that's why I could win the match."

Halep will face Caroline Garcia or Petra Kvitova in Sunday's final.

 

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