Tennis

Naomi Osaka reaches third round of Italian Open

World No. 1 Naomi Osaka eased into the third round of the Italian Open yesterday with a straight-set win over Dominika Cibulkova under the sunshine in Rome after the previous day's play was washed out.

Osaka, 21, was first up after wintery conditions in the Italian capital wiped out an entire day's play with competitors having two matches lined up yesterday.

The two-time Grand Slam winner won through 6-3, 6-3 in 1hr 42min for her fourth victory in as many games against the 33rd-ranked Slovak whom she also beat last week in Madrid.

The Japanese star fought back after losing her serve early in the first set, saving four break-points in the second, hitting 44 winners and 12 aces, despite 25 unforced errors.

FIRST TIME

Osaka, who won the last two Grand Slams - the US Open and Australian Open titles - reaches the third round in Rome for the first time in three appearances.

But she needs to make the quarter-finals at least if she wants to hold her world No. 1 ranking.

Meanwhile, world No. 2 Simona Halep and 19th-ranked Garbine Muguruza both exited the competition.

Halep lost 6-2, 5-7, 3-6 to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in the second round, while Muguruza retired in her third-round clash with Victoria Azarenka, who was leading 6-4, 3-1.

Britain's Johanna Konta defeated Venus Williams 6-2, 6-4 in the third round to reach the quarter-finals, where she will meet either Vondrousova or Daria Kasatkina. - AFP

Tennis