WTA Madrid: Simona Halep tops Johanna Konta. Naomi Osaka struggles but wins


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WTA Madrid: Simona Halep tops Johanna Konta. Naomi Osaka struggles but wins

World no. 3 and a former Madrid champion Simona Halep is through to the last 16 following a 7-5, 6-1 win over Johanna Konta in an hour and 28 minutes, beating the Briton for the second time in a row after losing the first three encounters between 2015-17.

Simona saved six out of eight break points, trailing 4-2 and erasing the deficit at 5-5 before prevailing after an hour and marching towards the finish line with a better performance in the second set that was over in less than 30 minutes.

Konta had a busy schedule in the last two weeks, playing in the final in Rabat on Saturday and winning the opening round in Munich to set Halep clash that she kicked off with a break in game three with a forehand winner. A hold at love pushed Konta 4-2 up and Simona started to hit stronger from that point, breaking back in game eight and wasting two set points on the return at 5-4.

Johanna had her chances in game 11 when she squandered three break points, failing to convert five game points in the next game to hand the set to the Romanian after a backhand error. Carried by this momentum, Simona raced into a 4-0 lead in set number two after winning 16 out of 18 points, scoring three breaks and sealing the deal with a hold in game seven for the place in the last 16.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich had an easy day at the office, beating a qualifier Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2, 6-2 in an hour and 14 minutes, losing serve once and stealing more than half of the return points to grab five breaks from 12 opportunities and secure the place in the third round.

World no. 1 Naomi Osaka had to work hard against Sara Sorribes Tormo, prevailing 7-6, 3-6, 6-0 in two hours and 35 minutes to avoid an early exit. Struggling on the second serve big time, the Japanese got broken five times before starting all over in the decider where she proved her quality to race towards the finish line and at least reduce the time spent on the court.

Sara was two points away from the opening set four times, unable to make that one last push and grab it before Naomi who claimed the tie break 7-5 after more than 70 minutes. From 3-3 in set number two, Osaka shifted into a higher gear to clinch nine straight games and move towards the finish line, happy with the way she performed in the second part of the encounter after the initial problems.