Four Top 8 seeds and a mix of former No. 1s, qualifiers and up-and-comers make up the quarterfinals of the Italian Open after upsets on Thursday in Rome. No. 9 Venus Williams pulled the biggest upset, taking out No. 5 seed Johanna Konta 6-1, 3-6, 6-1.
“I love this tournament, and I love Rome,” Venus said. “It’s one of my favorite places on earth, so that’s one of the reasons why I have always come here. I have had a good amount of success here.”
Also on the upset tip Friday were Aussie qualifier Daria Gavrilova toppling No. 7 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6, 7-5, 6-4, and Estonian Anett Kontaveit following up her win over No. 1 Angie Kerber with a 6-1, 6-1 dismantling of No. 16 seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
Top 10-seeded winners Thursday were No. 2 Karolina Pliskova holding off Timea Bacsinszky 6-1, 7-5; No. 3 Garbine Muguruza suddenly looking like a contender with a 7-5, 6-4 win over big hitter Julia Goerges; No. 6 Simona Halep outlasting less-than-fit No. 12 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 4-6, 6-0; and No. 8 Elina Svitolina outlasting German Mona Barthel 3-6, 6-0, 6-0.
“I feel like right now every girl, every woman, is playing very good,” Muguruza said after the win. “You never know, when they go to the court, who is going to win. It’s so even that I felt today like if I didn’t play well and concentrated, I could have easily lost this match. I was very happy also because I didn’t play my best in Madrid, and in Stuttgart I kind of lost in the third set. So I’m happy to be able to win matches here in Rome.”
Venus sounded a little more confident after her win, and before facing Muguruza Friday.
“My whole thing about it is to try to win my match no matter who I play against,” the American said. “I hope to have more luck and more skill.”
Halep bageled Pavlyuchenkova in the third, going for placement and running the Russian.
“It’s good that I could change in the third set, and I changed exactly to what I did in the first set and that went very well for me, opening the court and just taking off a little bit the power,” the Romanian said.
No. 15-seeded Kiki Bertens also moved into the quarters, defeating Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-6(3), 6-1.
The Friday quarterfinals will see (6) Halep vs. (Q) Kontaveit, (15) Bertens vs. (Q) Gavrilova, (2) Pliskova vs. (8) Svitolina, and (3) Muguruza vs. (9) Williams.
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