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Needing a couple of wins this week to hold on to her No. 1 ranking, Simona Halep routed Naomi Osaka 6-1, 6-0 Wednesday in the second round of the Italian Open.
It was a sharp turnaround from when Osaka lost only three games against Halep in the Indian Wells semifinals in March _ when Osaka went on to win her first career title.
Osaka wasted four break points and a chance to take a 2-0 lead in the first set, then lost 11 straight games.
On Halep’s first match point, the 21st-ranked Osaka didn’t even make a move for Halep’s return of her second serve.
Halep needs to reach at least the quarterfinals at the Foro Italico or risk losing the top spot to Caroline Wozniacki.
Last year in Rome, Halep rolled her ankle in the final and lost a lead and the championship to Elina Svitolina.