(Reuters) - Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber cooled off red-hot Simona Halep in straight sets on Saturday to reach the final of the Southern & Western Open in Cincinatti, one win away from taking over as world number one.
Second seed Kerber beat the third-seeded Romanian, winner of 13 successive matches, 6-3 6-4 to set up a Sunday final against Karolina Pliskova, needing a victory to reach the top of the rankings and end the long reign of American Serena Williams.
Williams has ruled women's tennis for 183 successive weeks, three weeks shy of Steffi Graf's all-time record, but the 28-year-old German can make her own history with a win on Sunday.
"I have still, one match to go," said left-hander Kerber, fresh off winning the Olympic silver and the Wimbledon runner-up to Williams last month.
"I would not think about this the whole week. Everybody's asking me about that. If it happens, it will be amazing, but still I have to focus on the next match against a real tough opponent, Pliskova."
The big-serving Pliskova, the 17th-seeded Czech, swept past French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain in a dominating straight sets performance, winning 6-1 6-3 in the earlier semi-final.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Andrew Both)