Simona Halep, 26, is heading to the quarterfinals at China Open in Beijing after dismantling Maria Sharapova in her eighth attempt. The last Premier Mandatory event of 2017 may also deliver a new world No. 1. After her win over Sharapova, Halep would love to keep the momentum up by going as deep as she can in the tournament. It was a stunning performance from Simona Halep who played one of her best matches in 2017, if not the best. Writing Maria Sharapova off in straight sets 6-2 6-2 caps years of Halep struggling to solve this puzzle. On the other side, the Russian tennis star lost another chance to dig deep in her quest to climb up the ladder.

Simona Halep stood firmly against Sharapova

Entering the encounter with a 7-0 deficit, Simona Halep chose this particular moment of the year to bulldoze her nemesis. The match started as expected and the tension was there from the beginning. A quick exchange of early-brakes seemed to announce a more balanced encounter. It was just that, with the Romanian putting her nose in front first. What Halep did on her special today was lowering the unforced errors ratio while delivering above the average numbers with her first serve. On the other side, Sharapova desperately tried to pierce through the wall called Halep, but she went on missing a lot instead. To have an idea of how good Halep was today, it's enough to say that she made only six unforced errors throughout the match and she had only one in the opening act.

The huge gap between them on the scoreboard came only as a natural follow-up of the events. Breaking three times on Sharapova's serve, Halep put the first set away by 6-2 in about half an hour from the start of the match. The second set saw Halep keeping her head crystal clear. Aware of the opportunity, she was able to maintain her focus and sharpness, forcing Sharapova to take even more risks.

Winning her own service games with ease took some of the pressure away. On the other side, Sharapova had to fight hard to make her own job. In the end, as a result of two breaks of serve, Halep capped the second set, ending Sharapova's bid in Beijing.

Simona Halep and that elusive world No. 1 seat

Currently ranked second in the world, the 26-year-old is about to close the gap on the world No.

1 spot. With Muguruza out of the contest, Halep, Pliskova, and Svitolina are in contention for the summit this week in Beijing. For Halep, the next round will bring either Agnieszka Radwanska, the defending champion or Daria Kasatkina to the other side of the net. Knowing how drastically she lost to Kasatkina last week in Wuhan, Halep would definitely enjoy a revenge match. If she reaches the semis, Jelena Ostapenko may arise at the other end which is just more unfinished business to take care off.