Halep ousts Osaka to reach last 16

Top seed Simona Halep showed no mercy by dispatching Japan's Naomi Osaka in straight sets to reach the third round of the Italian Open in Rome yesterday.

Romanian Halep powered her way to a 6-1, 6-0 victory in just under an hour at the Foro Italico to claim her fourth win over 21st-ranked Osaka in five meetings.

The 26-year-old Halep reached last year's final in Rome and needs to reach the quarter-finals this time to hold her world No. 1 ranking.

The match looked set to be a battle after Halep needed to save four break-points in her opening service game for 1-1, but then reeled off 12 consecutive games to avenge her Indian Wells loss.

Osaka, 20, failed to convert any of her six break-point opportunities, hitting 29 unforced errors to Halep's 14.

The Romanian will next play American Madison Keys, who defeated Donna Vekic, for a place in the quarter-finals.

Halep is building towards the French Open in two weeks when she hopes to claim a first Grand Slam after twice finishing runner-up in Roland Garros.

France's Caroline Garcia, a semi-finalist in Madrid last week, also eased into the third round past Hungary's Timea Babos 6-3, 6-4.

Garcia, the seventh seed, went through with a break in both sets in 1hr 30min and will next play Sloane Stephens. - AFP