World number 1 Simona Halep has failed to reach the semi-final in Miami, Stuttgart and Madrid but she has sent a clear message to her opponents that she wants much more in Rome, demolishing Naomi Osaka 6-1 6-0 in 59 minutes! This was the fourth triumph for the Romanian over her young Japanese opponent and it was a much different match than what we saw at Indian Wells in March when Osaka lost just three games en route to the title.
Today it was all about Halep, who saved all six break points she faced and took charge on the return as well, winning almost 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.
Simona needed a few games to set her range, saving four break points in game two and winning all 12 games up from that moment! Naomi never hit the zone, missing too many balls from her backhand and some easy volley at the net as well, dropping serve in games three, five and seven to find herself 6-1 down.
Halep has won the last 11 points on the return in the opening set and she was on fire in the second part of the match as well, clinching all the games of set numbers two to bring the match home in less than an hour and set the third round meeting with Madison Keys.
The rising Greek Maria Sakkari has scored her first Top 5 win after a dramatic 3-6 6-3 7-5 win over the 6th seed Karolina Pliskova in two hours and 21 minutes. Maria clinched the decisive break in the 11th game of the final set after a terrible call from the chair umpire on Pliskova's smash that was clearly in.
The umpire said he couldn't find the mark and the supervisor couldn't change anything as well, with a break point for Sakkari who converted it when frustrated Karolina netted a forehand to fall 6-5 behind. The Greek completed the match with a good hold in game 12 but that was not the end of the drama, as Pliskova approached the umpire’s chair and slammed her racquet into it a few times until she made a hole in the chair! Sakkari played better on both the first and second serve, taking the power off from Pliskova's first serve and earning 14 break points.
She converted six chances and lost serve five times from nine opportunities she offered to Pliskova to emerge as a winner but it was really all about that questionable call that once again launched a debate about the necessity of the hawk-eye system on the clay courts.
Second round results: