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With win, Kerber unseats Williams

MASON, Ohio — Angelique Kerber reached the Western & Southern Open final Saturday, leaving her one win away from unseating Serena Williams at No. 1.

Kerber took control after a 33-minute rain delay in the first set and beat Simona Halep 6-3, 6-4 in humid, windy conditions, putting her within reach of the world's top ranking. Williams has led the WTA rankings for 183 consecutive weeks, the second-longest such stretch.

A win on Sunday over 15th-seeded Karolina Pliskova would move Kerber to the top spot in next week's rankings. Williams dropped out at the start of the tournament because of an inflamed shoulder, leaving her ranking vulnerable.

Kerber has tried to avoid thinking about No. 1 because she didn't want to put any more pressure on herself. Now, there's no avoiding it.

"I've had a lot of ups and downs the last few years and a lot of experiences from which I've learned," Kerber said. "I think I'm one of the best tennis players. One match away, still a long way to go."

She'd become only the second German woman to hold the top spot. Steffi Graf's reign at No. 1 ended in 1997. It would be Kerber's first title in Cincinnati — she lost her other finals appearance in 2012.

In the men's bracket, Andy Murray beat Milo Raonic 6-3, 6-3. He's won his last 22 matches, a career best. And he appeared fresher on Saturday after pulling through a draining summer of success.

Marin Cilic faced unseeded Grigor Dimitrov in the other semifinal, which was delayed by rain.