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Halep eliminates teenager Osaka in third-round match

Kyodo, Reuters, AP

Naomi Osaka failed to capitalize on her strong start on Friday, when she blew a one-set lead en route to losing her third-round French Open match to Romanian sixth seed Simona Halep.

Osaka, who is ranked 101st in the world, won the final four games of the first set against the world No. 6 before losing 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Playing in her second Grand Slam, the 18-year-old Osaka also reached the third round of this year’s Australian Open.

Halep was pushed to the brink to start the second set, when she held serve in a 14-point first game, but broke Osaka quickly and went up 3-0. Trailing 3-1 in the third set, Osaka broke Halep in another epic 15-point game and then evened the set at 3-3 to reach her high-water mark.

Australian Samantha Stosur edged out last year’s runner-up Lucie Safarova 6-3, 6-7 (7-0), 7-5 to reach the fourth round.

The 32-year-old, enjoying a return to form on the European clay this year, recovered from a drubbing in the second set tiebreak to set up a last-16 clash with Halep.

Stosur, beaten by Italian Francesca Schiavone in the 2010 final after eliminating Serena Williams in the semis, broke at the start of the third set only for 11th seed Safarova to break back to get back to 4-4.

Former U.S. Open champion Stosur then broke in the final game to claim only her fourth victory in 15 matches against the Czech.

On the men’s side, Japan’s world No. 6 Kei Nishikori was poised to play his third-round match against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.

Also Friday, Andy Murray’s Paris campaign gathered pace as he made light work of big serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic to reach the fourth round with a 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) victory.

After consecutive five-setters in his first two rounds, the second seed gave a masterclass in nullifying the game’s biggest serve, breaking twice in succession at the start of the match to pave the way for a routine victory.

Murray will face either big serving American 15th seed John Inner or Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili next.

The ATM’s statistics showed Karol had won 95 percent of his service games in the last year, more than any other player, but that counted for little on Court Suzanne Lenglen.