Simona Halep advances to third round at Indian Wells

World No. 1 Simona Halep roared into the third round of the Indian Wells WTA tournament, overpowering Kristyna Pliskova 6-4, 6-4 on Friday.

The 26-year-old Romanian will meet the winner of a match between American wildcard Caroline Dolehide and Dominika Cibulkova, of Slovakia.

“I was ready to play. I was ready to work and ready to fight,” Halep said. “It was a nice day.

“It wasn’t an easy match. But I am really happy I won my first match here and I get a chance to play again.”

Halep and Caroline Wozniacki have been taking turns at No. 1 this year.

Denmark’s Wozniacki took the world number one ranking after winning the Australian Open but Halep reclaimed it from her just prior to the elite Indian Wells hardcourt event.

Wozniacki will play her first match of the tournament on Saturday against qualifier Lara Arruabarrena.

The 2015 Indian Wells champion Halep won 58 percent of her first serves and made just one double fault in the 75 minute match.

Pliskova, who is ranked 77th in the world, blasted eight aces but had her serve broken six times as she struggled mightily with her second serve.

Halep won three out of the final four games in the second set, claiming victory when Pliskova sailed a forehand long on the first match point.

Halep, who lost to Wozniacki in a three set final at the Australian Open, is still seeking her first Grand Slam title.

Elsewhere, ninth seeded Petra Kvitova won her 14th straight match to equal the longest winning streak of her career by outlasting Yulia Putintseva 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.

“It’s kind of tough to explain, because it was really up-and-down,” Kvitova said.

“My mental side wasn’t really tough, I have to say. It was a good point and I was up mentally, and then it was a bad point, and I was down. That was almost all match.”

In other women’s matches on Friday, Japan No. 1 Naomi Osaka cruised past veteran Agnieszka Radwanska, of Poland, 6-3, 6-2 and former US Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova was bundled out of the tournament by Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

Other winners included China’s Wang Qiang and American Coco Vandeweghe.

Taking the court in the night session was world number three Garbine Muguruza who is facing qualifier Sachia Vickery.

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