French Open 2016: Simona Halep battles past Naomi Osaka, Garbiñe Muguruza eases into last 16
Paris: Fourth seed Garbiñe Muguruza and sixth seed Simona Halep both reached the last 16 of the French Open on Friday but in contrasting fashions.
With the early exits of Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber and the powerful Victoria Azarenka, the Spaniard and the Romanian are seen as the biggest threats to Serena Williams' bid for a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title.
Williams is in the other half of the draw and has reached the third round without dropping a set.
The 22-year-old Venezuela-born Muguruza, who lost last year's Wimbledon final to Williams, easily saw off the challenge of Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer 6-3, 6-0, winning nine games in a row from 3-3 in the first set.
"I did play very well. I wanted so much to win this match," she said. "I am really motivated at Roland Garros and I hope I can continue like this."
Halep, a losing finalist to Maria Sharapova in Paris two years ago, was stretched by 18-year-old US-based Japanese player Naomi Osaka before pulling through 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
"It was a very tough match. She played unbelievable and she is very young and talented," she said.
"I think it was a little bit of mental and a little bit of experience too. I did well in the end and I am happy I can play again the fourth round here."
She will next play former US Open champion Samantha Stosur of Australia. Stosur defeated last year's finalist Czech Lucie Safarova in three sets, 6-3, 6-7 (0/7), 7-5.
Muguruza will play the winner of the match between 2009 Paris champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and her fellow Russian opponent Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Nishikori said he had not reached out to Osaka following her defeat, but planned to message her to show his support.
The superstar American gymnast Biles on Tuesday stunned the Tokyo Olympics when she pulled out of the women's team final, saying: "I have to do what's right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardise my health and my well-being."
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