Four former Grand Slam champions and current No. 1 Simona Halep advanced on Thursday in Rome.
Reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko knocked out Johanna Konta 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. The Latvian’s win sets up a tasty tussle Friday against former French winner Maria Sharapova who eased past a weary Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-4. The Australian Gavrilova had to work into the morning the day before to fend off Garbine Muguruza.
“I guess in those moments, those situations, you kind of have to really focus on yourself,” Sharapova said. “I also played back-to-back matches and have to focus on the recovery aspect of my body and see where I can take it in the next day.
“But you also realize that she has had a long, deep match, went into the early hours of the night.
“I think this is one of the challenges of this back-to-back Madrid/Rome tournament. There’s so many matches, so many rounds, big draws, and those are just the circumstances that you come to.”
Sharapova and Ostapenko have never played.
“I’ve seen quite a bit. I mean, obviously she’s been going deep into tournaments and has helped set up some really great matches for herself in the past year specifically, and especially on this surface,” Sharapova said. “There’s something that really comes out from her on this surface, which she’s able to do really well.
“We’ve never faced against each other before, and, yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”
Australian Open champ Caroline Wozniacki edged Anastasija Sevastova 6-2, 5-7, 6-3. The Dane will now meet Anett Kontaveit who upset Venus Williams 6-2, 7-6. Kontaveit also beat Venus last week in Madrid.
Angelique Kerber also advanced over Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-1. She’ll take on Elina Svitolina.
And Caroline Garcia ousted Sloane Stephens 6-1, 7-6. Simona Halep is next. The top seed didn’t have to hit a ball as Madison Keys withdrew ahead of their match due to a rib injury.
“I am really sorry I have to withdraw from this year’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia,” Keys said in a statement. “I felt my rib in my match yesterday and after trying to warm up this morning it will still painful. I look forward to returning to this great event next year and seeing all my fans in Rome.”
By reaching the quarters, Halep will remain No. 1.
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