Halep, Tomljanovic advance in Rome

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Former world No.1s Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka have advanced to the second round of the Italian Open in Rome but Angelique Kerber lost and four-times grand slam champion Naomi Osaka has withdrawn due to injury.

Ajla Tomljanovic, the only Australian in the draw, progressed on Monday against world No.30 Camila Giorgi.

Tomljanovic was leading 6-3 4-2 when Italian Giorgi retired after 79 minutes.

World no.41 Tomljanovic will now meet either Tunisia's Ons Jabeur, fresh from winning the Madrid Open, or Sorana Cirstea of Romania.

Halep, champion in Rome in 2020, beat France's Alize Cornet 6-4 6-4, exacting revenge for her fourth-round loss at the Australian Open in January.

In a match that had 10 break points converted by the two players, Halep led 5-1 in both sets before Cornet twice fought back. But the Romanian eventually got the job done, sealing progress with a forehand winner on Cornet's serve.

Azarenka met a familiar foe in Swiss Viktorija Golubic, who she beat at the same stage of the Madrid Open late last month.

Although the match in Madrid was a closer contest, this time Azarenka won emphatically with a 6-3 6-0 scoreline, wrapping up the match in just 68 minutes.

Kerber was beaten 6-1 6-4 by Coco Gauff. The former No.1 and three-time grand slam winner has now lost six straight matches.

Meanwhile Osaka pulled out due to a left ankle injury with the French Open on her mind and replaced in the draw by lucky loser Nuria Parrizas Diaz.

"The injury I picked up last week in Madrid hasn't healed yet. It's an Achilles injury so I need to be careful, especially in advance of Roland Garros," Osaka said.

Top seed Iga Swiatek, who has a bye to the second round, gets her title defence underway on Tuesday.

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