China Open in Beijing is the last Premier Mandatory event of the season, but the stakes are even higher now that there is another opening for a possible new world No. 1. Simona Halep [VIDEO] (2 WTA) and Elina Svitolina (3 WTA) are in contention for this week's bid. The current world No. 1 Garbine Muguruza of Spain is out of the women's draw which is just another powderkeg of this autumn. That foot injury of Muguruza may prevent her to keep her head above the water in the closing weeks of 2017. Bag news for the Spaniard is translated into unexpected opportunities both for Halep and Svitolina. Moreover, these two are showing some great tennis in Beijing as they have already made it into the quarterfinals.

Simona Halep solved Sharapova's puzzle for the first time

The Romanian tennis star saw in a difficult position in what was an early blockbuster in the bottom half of the draw. She bumped into Sharapova's way for the eighth time. Having lost all their previous meetings, she went on stunning her former nemesis with a straight set win 6-2 -62 at the end of probably her best match in 2017. A ferocious counter-punching game gave Halep the leverages to handle Sharapova for the first time.

The next stage might be a revenge match as the No. 2 seed will face Daria Kasatkina to who she lost last week in Wuhan. If she gets past the Russian, she will see either Jelena Ostapenko or Sorana Cirstea emerging from the third quarter of the draw.

Going back to that world No. 1 debate, Simona Halep [VIDEO] must reach at least the final in order to surpass Garbine Muguruza.

With Karolina Plsikova also out of the contest, her job got easier. If Svitolina doesn't reach the final, the Romanian won't have to win the title. Moreover, Svitolina and Halep are on a collision course for the final act. And that would be a highly-entertaining encounter as the winner of that potential clash would not only win a Premier Mandatory title but would also ascend to the WTA summit.

Elina Svitolina and her great deal of consistency

Elina Svitolina, 23, is having her best season as a professional tennis player in 2017. Having put five titles under her belt this year, she has shown a solid game even though she failed to aim big at the Grand Slams. Even so, she is the only WTA player with three Premier 5 titles won in 2017. Last year, she made it all the way to the semis in Beijing. Practically, she is now one match away from completing her defense work.If she goes all the way this week, she will become the new world No.1 on Monday when the ranking will be updated.