Top 5 seeds Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep moved one step away from a blockbuster final with quarterfinal wins on Friday at the Italian Open in Rome.
The red-hot No. 2-seeded Halep rolled through Romanian qualifier Alexandra Dulgheru 6-1, 6-0, while the No. 3-seeded Sharapova was likewise impressive in a 6-3, 6-2 win over former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
“Today it was a pretty good match, I was very solid,” said Halep, who has lost seven games in three matches. “She was tired as well because she had many long matches before today, so I had an advantage over her. It’s not easy to play against one Romanian, but during the match you forget against who you play, just go on court and do your job.”
Halep in the Saturday semifinals will face No. 10 seed Carla Suarez Navarro, who was an upset winner Friday over No. 4 seed and Madrid winner Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-2.
“I played really solid today and sometimes aggressive, which is very important against Petra because she’s such an aggressive player herself,” said Suarez Navarro, the first player to reach 30 match wins this year. “I think overall this year I’ve been able to play more aggressively. It’s given me more confidence in my game — I just feel stronger.”
Halep leads Suarez Navarro in their head-to-head series 5-4, including their last three meetings.
“It will be tough because she’s playing amazingly,” Suarez Navarro said of Halep. “Always when we play we have long rallies, long matches. But you never know. I need to be 100 percent and it will be tough, for sure.”
Sharapova in the semis will meet fellow Russian and qualifier Daria Gavrilova, who on Friday beat fellow qualifier and American Christina McHale 6-2, 6-4.
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