2014 French Open finalist and sixth seed Simona Halep overcame a slow start and big hitting from young Naomi Osaka to battle past the Japanese and reach the fourth round in Paris for the second time with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory. Despite a frustrating first set loss, Halep was able to rebound well and move into her second round of 16 in three years at Roland Garros.
Osaka overcomes slow start to take opening set
Halep and Osaka began the match exchanging holds before the Japanese gained the first break with an explosive forehand winner. The Romanian responded well, breaking her younger opponent back immediately for 2-all. The sixth seed then held to consolidate the break off of a forehand error from Osaka, before breaking the Japanese's serve again for a 4-2 lead.
After losing her serve two times in a row, Osaka responded well, breaking the six seed off of a string of errors from the Romanian. The world number 101 then leveled the match at 4-all, with errors coming from all over Halep's game. The 18-year-old then broke the former finalist again off of a Halep double fault, resulting in a throw of the racquet by Halep. With Osaka serving for the set, the Japanese used her big serve and groundstrokes to wreak havoc on Halep, with the Romanian spraying another forehand long to give Osaka the set 6-4.
Halep battles back in second
Halep began the second set holding, before gaining the immediate break of the Osaka serve for an early lead. The Romanian consolidated the break off of an Osaka backhand error, followed by the Japanese getting on the board for 3-1. Osaka and Halep then exchanged breaks for 4-2, before the Romanian held her serve to go up 5-2 and force her younger opponent to serve to stay in the set. The 2014 finalist upped her level to create two set points, taking the first off of an Osaka forehand error to level the match at a set all.
Halep closes it out in the third
Halep and Osaka both held to start the set, with the six seed holding again for 2-1. The Romanian then broke Osaka off of another forehand error from the unseeded Japanese. The 18-year-old Osaka then broke back for 3-2, consolidating the break on her own serve the next game for 3-3. The former finalist held easily the following game, punctuating a 4-3 lead with a big forehand winner.
With Halep only two games from a second round of 16 appearance, Osaka struggled with nerves, spraying balls left and right, eventually giving the break away at love for a 5-4 lead for Halep. With Halep serving for a spot in the second week, the world number six held easily, booking a spot in the fourth round with a hard-fought 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over her more inexperienced opponent.
Up next for Halep
Up next for Halep is another former finalist in 2010 runner-up Samantha Stosur. Much like the Romanian, Stosur also had a tough three setter, with the Aussie edging last year's finalist Lucie Safarova 7-5 in the third to move on. Halep holds a 4-3 head to head advantage over Stosur, with their last meeting coming a few weeks ago in the semifinals in Madrid, with the world number six dominating the former US Open champion on her way to a 6-2, 6-0 win. Halep and Stosur will have tomorrow off before coming back on Sunday for their fourth round match.