Tennis: Kerber moves step closer to world number one ranking

Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:00am EDT
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(Reuters) - Angelique Kerber moved within two victories of the world number one ranking when she beat Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro in their quarter-final at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Friday.

The German second seed overcame a slow start before finding some form and outlasting ninth seed Navarro 4-6 6-3 6-0 in a match that never reached any great heights in front of a small crowd in steamy afternoon heat.

Kerber's task was perhaps made easier by an apparently injured Navarro, who moments after losing withdrew from her doubles match, citing a thigh complaint.

If Kerber wins on Sunday, she will displace Serena Williams as world number one, ending the American's run of 183 consecutive weeks at the top.

Williams was a late withdrawal from Cincinnati, citing a shoulder injury.

To overtake Williams, Kerber must first get past Romanian Simona Halep who defeated Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska 7-5 6-1 to reach the semi-final.

Kerber and Halep last met in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, where the German prevailed in two tight sets, but Halep has not lost a match since en route to victories at the Bucharest Open and Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Kerber has played a heavy schedule over the summer, and it showed in her sluggish start on Friday.

"It was really difficult to go out there," she told the WTA website. "I'm playing like I don't know which day ... every day, it's the same. When I'm waking up it's the same routine I have ... Of course it's really hot out there."   Continued...

Angelique Kerber (GER) returns a shot against Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP) in the quarterfinals during the Western and Southern tennis tournament at Linder Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports