World number one Simona Halep proved too experienced for Japan’s rising star Naomi Osaka as she eased into the Australian Open quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-2 victory on Monday.
The scoreline did not tell the whole story, however, as the Romanian was given a real fight early on by the 20-year-old, who is tipped to become the next big thing in women’s tennis.
Halep, still looking for her first grand slam title, was under the cosh in the opening stages of the match as 72nd-ranked Osaka blazed away to set up numerous break points.
Halep displayed her usual resilience to save four break points in an intense game at 2-3 that featured six deuces and it proved to be a turning point in the match.
She began to feed off Osaka’s errors and broke twice on her way to taking the opener as the storm on the other side of the net blew itself out.
Osaka’s spirit ebbed away in the second set and after establishing a 5-2 lead Halep crunched a forehand return winner to seal victory and reach the last eight for the third time.