On a very busy double-up day in Rome, world No. 1 Naomi Osaka locked up the top seed at the French and moved in to the quarterfinals after identical 6-3, 6-3 wins over Dominika Cibulkova and Mihaela Buzarnescu.
It’s her first clay quarterfinal and puts the 21-year-old up against Madrid champ Kiki Bertens. The Dutchwoman ran her win streak to eight straight after Thursday wins over Amanda Anisimova and Carla Suarez Navarro, both in three sets.
“It’s great and so different from playing in Madrid to here.,” Bertens said. “I’m so happy I could get wins over two tough and different opponents. It was just fighting, fighting, fighting, and hitting the ball where I could. It wasn’t always the best, but good to still get some wins here.”
Bertens and Osaka have split two prior meetings.
“It’ll be a tough match, of course,” Bertens said of Osaka. “She’s a great player, and the best player at the moment, being No.1. I’ll have to throw in a lot of mixed shots because getting in rhythm with her, I won’t have a chance. I’ll need my variety, and a big fight.
“I’m trying not to think too much about tomorrow, though, because the thought of one more day on the tennis court might make me cry!” she added with a laugh. “I’m so tired! Seriously, I’m just happy to be through and be proud of myself. I still felt my energy, and felt good after Madrid. I thought two matches in one day might be too much and we’ll try tomorrow again.”
Former Top 5 Johanna had the best day beating two former Grand Slam champions Sloane Stephens and then Venus Williams.
“To come through that match, come back again this afternoon, I was looking forward to playing Venus again,” Konta told the press, after her day was complete. “I always enjoy being on court with [Venus]. Just pleased to have come through that match as well, two tough opponents.”
“I’ve been to the third round here for a number of years, so I’m very pleased to have gone one further,” she added. “I love being here. I’ve always enjoyed coming to Rome, even outside of tennis. It extends my trip here, which is nice. Hopefully keep extending it.”
Konta will now meet young Czech Marketa Vondrousova who needed three sets to beat both Simona Halep and then Daria Kasatkina.
Halep was troubled in her 2-6, 7-5,6-3 loss by a bad hamstring.
“A little bit in the second set, I started to feel, I think a little bit from sliding,” Halep said referring to her leg. “Yesterday, I didn’t do much. I had two days off, so it was a little bit tough to get back to this rhythm, very high rhythm.
“Nothing, like, tight or something broken. Is just a little bit of injury, which in a few days is going to be okay, I’m sure.”
Also injured were fellow Slam winners Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova. Muguruza retired in the second down a set and a break to Victoria Azarenka due to a left thigh issue.
Kvitova retired down 4-0 in the third to Maria Sakkari because of a left calf problem. Sakkari will now meet Kristina Mladenovic in a battle of qualifiers tomorrow. Mladenovic posted two great wins over Ash Barty and Belinda Bencic.
After not even playing a full match, Azarenka moves into the quarterfinals where she’ll face Karolina Pliskova who also played just one match today, that a 3-set win over American Sofia Kenin.
You Might Like:
WTA Rome Preview: Serena Returns With 9 Of Top 10, Could Face Venus In 2R
WTA Top 3 — Osaka, Barty, Pliskova — Lead Way At Birmingham
World No. 1 Kerber Falls To Venus, Halep Upset Wednesday at Miami Open
Stars Serena, Stephens, Osaka Assemble At The New Miami Open
Top Seeds Halep, Wozniacki in Deep at Italian Open; Preview