Angelique Kerber can taste the World No.1 ranking after reaching the final of the Western & Southern Open with a win over Simona Halep.
A win against Karolina Pliskova in the final would give her the top spot, ending the 183-week run of Serena Williams as No. 1.
Kerber took control against Halep after a 33-minute rain delay in the first set and scored a 6-3 6-4 win.
Williams dropped out at the start of the tournament because of an inflamed shoulder, leaving her ranking vulnerable, and Kerber has tried to avoid thinking about No. 1 because she didn’t want to put any more pressure on herself.
But now, there’s no avoiding it.
“Just stay in the moment, enjoy the whole weekend,” she said. “I’m in the finals now, which means a lot to me.”
She’d become only the second German woman to hold the top spot. Steffi Graf’s reign at No. 1 ended in 1997.
Kerber led 4-3 in the first set when rain forced the delay. She won eight of the next nine points to take the first set, then pulled ahead 4-0 in the second set, pumping her right arm in celebration as the games piled up.
Elsewhere, Pliskova advanced to the championship match for the first time by beating Garbine Muguruza 6-1 6-3.
She was well aware of what the match will mean for her opponent.
“I know it,” she said.
“For me, doesn’t really mean anything. For her, yes. I don’t know if she would be a little bit stressed or something, but I would love to have her as a No. 1 after a few years.”