moved nearer to regaining the world number 1 ranking by coming out of a set down to beat Polona Hercog 57 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 at the Open.

The 27-year-old world number three lost her place at the top of the women’s game after ’s victory in January.

However, after Osaka’s shock departure in the third round in Miami, Halep will go back into the most effective when she chooses the title.

She next faces Venus , that sailed past 14 th seed Daria Kasatkina.

American seven-time Grand Slam winner beat the 21-year-old Russian 6-3 6-1 in just under 75 minutes Sunday to reach the fourth round.

At number 43 in the world positions, three-time Open winner , 38, is ranked 2-1 places lower compared to Kasatkina.

n Halep, the 2018 French Open winner, came in having neglected to get beyond the last 16 in n Wells and the quarter-finals in Dubai.

She’ll go top of these ranks if she reaches the final and loses to anybody other than Czech world number two Petra Kvitova. Kvitova confronts France’s Caroline Garcia in the fourth round.

It took her almost three hours to beat 28-year-old Hercog, the planet 9 3 out of Slovenia.

“She played incredible and it was such a challenging match,” said Halep. “It was good to play almost three hours though. I slowly found my rhythm but I always had belief so when I can keep doing so, I will have a good tournament.”

World number one Osaka was conquered by 27th-seeded Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan on Saturday, while was forced to withdraw with a knee injury.


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