How will Halep pull up from Open marathon?
TOP seed Simona Halep will have to overcome a lingering ankle injury to continue her charge towards her first grand slam title.
After a marathon three-hour 45-minute win over American Lauren Davis on Saturday, Halep's recuperative powers have been severely tested ahead of her fourth-round clash against Japan's Naomi Osaka (the world No.72) on Monday.
Halep, 26, rolled her left ankle in the first-round win over Australian Destanee Aiava and required more painkillers to help ease the pain in Saturday's epic win.
The 4-6 6-4 15-13 triumph equalled the record for most number of games played (48) in an Australian Open women's draw.
Halep, who planned to keep off her feet on Sunday, said the injury could continue to hamper her throughout the tournament.
"It's sore," Halep said after the win.
"I felt the pain. It's not recovered. It's impossible to recover after.
"After this match I think tomorrow is going to be worse, but I just push, push myself, and we will see what's going to happen."
The speedy Romanian has beaten Osaka in their two meetings, although the 20-year-old has pushed Halep in both matches, winning one set in each.
Osaka knocked Australian Ash Barty out of the tournament on Saturday 6-4 6-2 using guile and power to underline her stratus as one of the best young up-and-coming talents in the women's tour.
Halep said she would have to use her excellent court coverage to edge out the aggressive Osaka.
"Osaka is hitting strong, so strong," Halep said.
"I have to be strong, if I can, on my legs, and just stay there, playing fast, opening the court, as I do all the time."
Halep has won 15 titles but is yet to breakthrough for her maiden grand slam victory.
She has a mixed record at the Australian Open, bowing out in the first round in four of her seven appearances, including her past two campaigns.
The winner will press through to the quarterfinals against the winner of No.20 seed Barbora Strycova versus No.6 Karolina Pliskova.