Simona Halep had to reach the quarter-finals of the Italian Open and advance further than Caroline Wozniacki to retain her no.1 ranking. Needless to say, she did exactly that, beating Frenchwoman and seventh seed, Caroline Garcia 6-2, 6-3.
She was aided by Anett Kontaveit, who got past Wozniacki in a shock defeat for the Danish world no.2. The Estonian got the better of Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1 in a fairly simple manner. It was a listless performance from Wozniacki, which does not bode well for her, considering the French Open is approaching soon.
For Kontaveit, it was the second big fish she had gunned down as she had also defeated American champion, Venus Williams in the last 16. She will now face Ukranian Elina Svitolina, who herself earned a shock victory over former world no.1, Angelique Kerber, in the semi-finals.
For Halep though, it was a sweet victory over her opponent. She will now face Russian Maria Sharapova in the semi-final of the Italian Open. Being at the top of the world rankings will mean that Halep will be seeded no.1 at Roland Garros. Halep also caught a lucky break in her bid, as Madison Keys had pulled out of their game in the previous round, giving that extra bit of rest for the Romanian.
Incidentally, Halep will also only be the second woman after Caroline Wozniacki to hold the no.1 ranking without winning a Grand Slam tournament. She has made the finals of the 2018 Australian open, two finals at the French Open (2014 and 2017). She has also been a semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2014 and at the US open in 2015. However, she has failed to reach the top pinnacle of a Grand Slam victory. Halep will be hoping to fulfil her dream at the French Open.