Simona Halep demolishes Naomi Osaka to reach Italian Open thrid round

WTA Rome Naomi Osaka stuns Victoria Azarenka in straight sets

World number one Simona Halep made a sublime start to the Internazionali d'Italia with a brutal 6-1 6-0 defeat of Naomi Osaka.

In the previous round, Osaka overpowered former No 1 and multiple Grand Slam victor Viktoria Azarenka to earn a 6-0, 6-3 victory.

The 26-year-old Romanian is on a defense course to keep her WTA number 1 title and must do everything to get to the quarter-finals of the tournament at least to maintain her ranking.

Halep, a beaten finalist last year, was handed a tough second-round draw against Osaka, who defeated the top seed on her way to victory at Indian Wells earlier this year and saw off Victoria Azarenka in her opening match.

Naomi Osaka's powerful serves set her up for many free points today
Naomi Osaka's powerful serves set her up for many free points today

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

Today it was all about Halep, who saved all six break points she faced and took charge on the return as well, winning nearly 70% of the points in Osaka's games to notch six breaks from seven opportunities, dominating from start to finish and reaching the third round in style.

Garcia, the seventh seed, went through with a break in both sets in 1hr 30min and she will next play either American Sloane Stephens or Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.

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