The second-ranked Halep needed just 54 minutes to cruise past Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-1 on Saturday in the Western & Southern Open semifinals, and can displace Karolina Pliskova as the top of the ranking with a victory over Garbine Muguruza on Sunday.
Sixth-ranked Spaniard Muguruza reached her first U.S. event final by trouncing Czech top-ranked defending champion Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-2, flipping the script in a rematch of their 2016 Cincinnati semi-final.
He'll face John Isner, who beat wild-card Jared Donaldson 7-6 (4), 7-5.
Halep, seeking her first No. 1 ranking, has yet to drop a set in the tournament and appears to be peaking at just the right time.
"And now another very, very hard match", Nadal said as he left the court. "I think I did this thing very, very well today".
Still, Muguruza - playing in her first final on American soil - knows Halep is a tough foe. Pliskova requested her coach midway through the match but the Spaniard surged ahead 5-3, executed another break and nabbed the set.
"I lost to her so many times, I figured out something was going wrong", Muguruza said.
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Her brother, Will has also paid tribute to his sister's resilience on Facebook with a picture of her recovering in hospital. She said she spent the last four weeks trying to navigate her way out of the woods but ended up going around in circles.
"I didn't wait, like, the mistake or something like this", he said. "Everything went my way". Halep is a gritty scrambler who will have to trust in her legs and speed to create the points and force Muguruza into the errors.
Halep went up a double-break early in both sets and was never seriously challenged by the American, who was playing in her fourth tournament since returning from foot surgery and an 11-month layoff from the sport. That followed a 2-hour, 18-minute win over Madison Keys on Thursday, when she fought off three match points. I'll try everything tomorrow. I knew if I kept the ball low on his backhand side and just kind of worked my way into the court, it would be the right thing to do.
Stephens played three matches in 24 hours due to a rain-affected schedule Friday. "I know what to expect now", Dimitrov said.
Kyrgios, ranked 23rd, took the first set in 25 minutes, dropping only three points on his serve while taking seven- of eight points off the 31-year-old Spaniard's second serves.
The Czech, who downed Wozniacki in this year's Eastbourne and Doha finals, broke in the third game of each set and saved the only break point she faced in her first service game.
She gained a second-set edge with a backhand victor on break point for a 4-2 lead before closing it out. The tournament's top seeds then had only a few hours to eat, rest and prepare for quarterfinals matches.