French Open 2016: Kei Nishikori, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova ease into third round
Paris: Japan's fifth seed Kei Nishikori, former runner-up Simona Halep and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova were all early second round winners at the French Open Wednesday.
Nishikori, a quarter-finalist in 2015, coasted into the last 32 with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov.
Nishikori, the 2014 US Open runner-up, goes on to face former world number seven Fernando Verdasco of Spain.
Verdasco, 32, is playing his 13th Roland Garros and will present Nishikori with a formidable challenge holding a 2-1 lead in their head to head record.
He won their only meeting on clay in Barcelona in 2012 although that came through an injury retirement.
Sixth seed Halep, the losing finalist to Maria Sharapova in 2014, endured a rollercoaster tie on Court Philippe Chatrier against Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan before securing a 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 win.
Halep, 24, was 1-4 down in the first set to the world number 90 before rallying and grabbing the tie-break.
The opening set featured six breaks of serve before the Romanian coasted through the second.
Halep will next face Japan's Naomi Osaka, the world 101 who has reached the third round at a major for the second successive time having also enjoyed a run to the last 32 in Australia.
Osaka, 18, knocked out 34-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-3, 6-3 which would have been relief to Halep who lost to the world number 52 Croatian at the French Open last year and US Open in 2014.
"It was very tough in the first set having to come back from 1-4 down," said Halep.
"But I found a better rhythm in the second set, tried to open the court and hit drive volleys."
Osaka, making her Roland Garros debut, hadn't won on clay all season before this week.
"I am adjusting to clay but I'd rather do better here than at smaller tournaments," said Osaka.
Kvitova, the 10th seed, saw off Taiwan's Su-Wei Hsieh 6-4, 6-1 in a much more comfortable outing than her opener against Danka Kovinic where she had been just two points away from defeat at one stage.
Kvitova, a semi-finalist in 2012, next faces Shelby Rogers of the United States.
Russian 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion, was too strong for Britain's Heather Watson winning 6-1, 6-3.
Kuznetsova next faces Fed Cup teammate Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who saw off Cagla Buyukakcay, the first Turkish woman to win a match at a Grand Slam, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1.
Spanish fourth seed Garbine Muguruza defeated French wildcard Myrtille Georges 6-2, 6-0 to make the Roland Garros third round Wednesday.
Muguruza, a quarter-finalist in the last two years, goes on to face either Russian 27th seed Ekaterina Makarova or Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer.
The 34-year-old Serbian cruised past 121st-ranked Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium to book a third-round date with 2014 US Open runner-up Kei Nishikori
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