World number one Simona Halep shook off a sleepless night racked with ankle pain to sweep past rising Japanese star Naomi Osaka and into the Australian Open quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-2 victory on Monday.
The scoreline did not reflect the whole story, however, as the Romanian was given a real fight early on by a 20-year-old tipped to become the next big thing in women's tennis.
The courageous Halep coaxed her sore ankle ligaments through a three-set marathon against her previous opponent Lauren Davis on Saturday but the effort left her miserably sore on the evening before her showdown against Osaka.
"Last night was really tough. I couldn't sleep. I had pain everywhere," she told reporters. "But I slept before the match two hours and it worked perfect. I was, like, fresh after that. I felt good. Ankle is still sore. But, you know, I'm not thinking about that any more."
Having battled through three hours and 44 minutes of graft against American Davis, the 79-minute workout against Osaka was a holiday by comparison as the Romanian continues her bid for a maiden grand slam title. She was under immense pressure in the opening stages against Osaka, however, as her 72nd-ranked opponent blazed away to set up numerous break points.
Halep displayed her usual resilience to save four of them in an intense game at 2-3 that featured six deuces, and it proved to be a turning point. She be...