Halep continues smooth Paris run

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Copy of iol spt pic Halep France Tennis French Open~6 AP Romania's Simona Halep returns the ball during the third round match of the French Open tennis tournament against Spain's Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

Paris - Fourth-seeded Simona Halep, the highest-ranked woman left at the French Open, made the last 16 for the first time on Saturday as the Romanian continued to escape the Roland Garros carnage.

The 22-year-old brushed aside Spain's Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor 6-3, 6-0 and next tackles 15th seeded American Sloane Stephens.

Halep, 22, has lost just 11 games in three rounds in Paris.

In contrast, the failure of Serena Williams, Li Na and Agnieszka Radwanska to get beyond the third round marked the first time in the Open era that the top three seeds had gone out before the last 16.

Halep, relegated to Court 2 for her third round match, finished off Torro-Flor in just 64 minutes.

Stephens, 21, reached the fourth round for a third successive year thanks to a 6-3, 6-4 win over Russian left-hander Ekaterina

Makarova.

Stephens had defeated Makarova in their only other previous meeting which took place in Paris in the first round two years ago.

The American will take a 2-1 career lead over Halep into their last-16 clash having won their last two matches at Hobart and the Australian Open in 2013.

But Halep won their only duel on clay in straight sets in Barcelona in 2012.

“I'm happy to get the job done early,” said the American.

“It's my third time in the last 16. Paris is awesome. Now I hope to go to the next step and get another win.”

Also on Saturday, Czech fifth seed Petra Kvitova, who was a semi-finalist in 2012, takes on Russian 27th seed Svetlana

Kuznetsova, the 2009 champion.

Kuznetsova is playing in her 12th consecutive Roland Garros.

The winner of that match will face either Serb 11th seed Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 champion, or Czech veteran Lucie Safarova.

Serb sixth seed Jelena Jankovic, a three-time semi-finalist, plays Romania's Sorana Cirstea, a quarter-finalist in 2009.

Sara Errani, the Italian 10th seed who was runner-up to Maria Sharapova in 2012, faces Israel's Julia Glushko.

France's Kristina Mladenovic, who put out Li Na in the first round, hopes to make the last 16 of a major for the first time when she faces German 28th seed Andrea Petkovic.

Petkovic won their only other meeting just down the road from Roland Garros at the Paris Indoor event earlier this year.

The winner of that match will face either Spain's Silvia Soler-Espinosa or Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens, the world number 148.

Sapa-AFP



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