Simona Halep earned her first victory since last May’s calf injury pause as the three-time finalist defeated Magda Linette 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 on Tuesday at the ATP-WTA Cincinnati Masters.

American teenager Coco Gauff lined up a contest with second seed Naomi Osaka through a 6-1, 6-2 hammering of Hsieh Su-Wei.

On a day when rain forced a reorganisation of the afternoon and evening schedule, women’s top seed Ashleigh Barty and Olympic gold medalist Alexander Zverev never made it onto court.

Halep only returned to the Tour last week in Montreal, losing in the opening round. She remained confident that progress was not far away after her injury in Rome three months ago. The Romanian defeated her Polish opponent for a second time, taking just over two hours.

“It was a strong match. In my opinion, both of us played really well,” the 29-year-old said. “Maybe the rain delay helped me a little bit to find energy. I was a little bit stronger physically and mentally in the third set.

“It means a lot, I’m really happy to win. It’s always important to have victories when you come back from an injury.

“This was the first time in my life that I’ve had this kind of problem, and I didn’t really know how to manage it. But I’m happy to be back, happy to play pain-free. I’m just trying to build my confidence back.”

The 12th seed, a former number one, played Cincinnati finals in 2015, 2017 and 2018. She dominated her 44th-ranked opponent with 11 aces and four breaks of serve.

Gauff won her last match with four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka at the Australian Open last year. Gauff, 1-1 in the series, will play Osaka for the first time outside of a Grand Slam.

“I’ve learned (from their past matches) to just focus on me and not on the expectations of others,” she said of the high-profile meeting with the former number one.

Montreal champion Camila Giorgi fell 6-2, 6-2 in her opening match to Jessica Pegula in a re-run of the pair’s semi-final last Saturday in Canada.

Hopes ended for Britain’s Johanna Konta in a 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 loss to Czech Karolina Muchova.

Konta has now lost in the Cincinnati first round in three of her last four appearances at the tournament, reaching the semi-finals in 2020 when the event was staged in New York under strict Covid-19 protocols.