Serena Williams had her revenge Friday in the Rome quarterfinals. The world No. 1 is playing her first event since losing to Svetlana Kuznetsova in Miami, but today she crushed the Russian 6-2, 6-0 to advance to the semifinals where she’ll face the surprising Romanian Irina Camelia Begu.
“It’s great. It makes me feel good,” Serena said. “Svetlana’s probably one of the best clay-court players, and having to face her was a task and a challenge. We always have really tough matches, so I’m just really happy to get through that one.”
Serena, who is seeking her first title of the season and her first since Cincinnati last summer, called it her best match since Australia.
“I think I played really well in Australia,” Serena said. “I just didn’t come through. I didn’t win that one. But throughout the tournament I played well here. This is probably the best match I have played since then.
Begu, who upended the injured Victoria Azarenka en route, defeated Masaki Doi 6-2, 7-6(3).
“She’s been doing really well for the past two, two-and-a-half years,” said Serena of the Romanian. “I have seen her play a lot. She plays a lot of big matches on courts against a lot of top players. She’s had a lot of big wins and had a lot of close losses. It’s been really refreshing and fun to watch her. I’m excited for it.”
Serena is a 3-time champion in Rome. Both Serena and Begu have yet to drop a set this week. Begu is just 4-17 lifetime against Top 10 players.
In the earlier semifinal, two of the younger power players collide as Garbine Muguruza meets Madison Keys.
The third-seeded Muguruza beat No. 11 seed Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-2 for her fourth win over the Swiss in four matches.
“I am satisfied. The matches I played with Timea before were very tough matches and very hard,” Muguruza said. “Obviously she’s Top 10. She’s there for a reason. So it’s a great victory for me on clay, also, because she beat Carla yesterday so that’s a sign she’s playing well.”
Meanwhile, it a much tighter affair Keys held firm to deny Barbora Strycova 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, beating the Czech for the second straight week.
The 21-year-old Keys has never played the 22-year-old Muguruza in a main draw WTA match, but she did beat the Spaniard once in the 2012 Cincinnati qualification. Both are into their first Rome semifinal.
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