Plain sailing for Simona Halep

The world number one defeated Naomi Osaka to reach the last eight at Melbourne Park.

By Eleanor Crooks, Press Association Sport Tennis Correspondent, Melbourne

World number one Simona Halep avoided the dramas of her third round to ease into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Naomi Osaka.

The 26-year-old looked to be heading home when Lauren Davis held three match points in their titanic encounter on Saturday but recovered to win 15-13 in the deciding set.

With Halep already troubled by the ankle injury she suffered in her first-round win, Japanese-American Osaka, one of the brightest young talents – and biggest hitters – in the game, looked a potentially tricky obstacle.

The 20-year-old began well and had an early break but Halep quickly began to break down Osaka’s game with her variety, athleticism and ability to turn defence into attack.

Halep needed just an hour and 19 minutes to wrap up victory and will play either sixth seed Karolina Pliskova or her fellow Czech Barbora Strycova in the last eight.

The top seed, who has made no secret that her focus is solely trained on winning a first grand slam title, said: “It was a great match. I’m really happy that I’m in the quarter-finals. I didn’t expect that when I started the tournament because of the injury but today I played well.

“This tournament looks like a marathon for me. The injury is still there but I try not to think too much about it and give everything because after this hopefully I’ll have a few days off.”

Phil Neville confirms interest in England Women job

The Football Association has been searching for Mark Sampson’s permanent successor since September

By Press Association Sport Staff

Phil Neville has confirmed he wants to be the next manager of England Women.

The former England, Everton and Manchester United player has been in talks with the Football Association about taking on the role.

The FA has been tight-lipped on plans for the permanent successor to Mark Sampson, who was sacked last September.Phil Neville has coaching experience from his time at Valencia (Nick Potts/Empics)

But Neville has emerged as the most likely candidate after a host of names linked with the job pulled out of the running.

He has never worked in the women’s game but said: “I am in talks with the FA and the discussions will continue. I’m excited to see how those discussions turn out.”

He added: “Hopefully the process will end up with me getting the job. It’s been rigorous, it’s been tough, but I think I’ve shown my commitment in the fact that I do want the job.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, the former Manchester United and Valencia coach added: “I’ve been waiting for the right opportunity to get back into football. Number one on the list was I wanted to be a manager.

“I wanted to be a manager in a club or system that would allow me to develop, would give me the best chance to succeed.

“I’ve got the opportunity if the talks come off that I can go to a World Cup and be successful and have a chance of winning a World Cup with a group of girls who are extremely driven, extremely professional. And in terms of my development as a coach I think this is the best job I could wish to ask for.”

Neville said he has turned down “two or three offers in the past 18 months” to get back into the game, saying they did not feel “right for my career”.England Women have been without a permanent boss since last September (Adam Davy/PA)

He knows there will be some who question his inexperience in women’s football.

Neville, 40, added: “I think (Baroness) Sue Campbell (the FA head of women’s football) said it a few weeks ago or in an interview that you want the best man for the job or the best person for the job whether that’s female or male, and I’m going through the process at the moment.”