No. 3 Garbine Muguruza was the seeded favorite moving into the semifinals of the Italian Open on Friday, outlasting No. 9 seed Venus Williams 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.
The defending French Open champion Muguruza with the quarterfinal victory is guaranteed to move into the Top 5 on the WTA rankings come Monday.
In the Saturday semis she will meet No. 8 Elina Svitolina, who upset No. 2 Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 7-6(9).
“I was very happy today, not even just that I won this match but with the way I played and how I handled the pressure,” said Svitolina, who entered the match with a 0-4 record against the world No. 2 Czech. “Especially in the tiebreak, the way I handled everything. It was something for me to be really proud of.”
The flat-hitting Pliskova did not seem fazed after the loss on her worst surface.
“I would say I’ve had three good matches here, which is better than all the other tournaments where I was playing on clay,” she said. “It’s definitely an improvement, and there’s still Paris in front of me.”
The favorite in the other semifinal will be No. 6 seed Simona Halep, who on Friday stopped the run of Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 6-4.
Halep on Saturday will face No. 15 Kiki Bertens, who in her quarterfinal beat Australian qualifier Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-3.
“Today was special because this was the first match where I was really calm,” Bertens said. “I stayed really calm and focused, and this was the first match where I really had confidence in myself. It felt great.”
Bertens beat Halep in their only meeting on clay in 2012.
“I haven’t played her in a while, but I know she’s in great shape and playing with great confidence,” Bertens said of Halep. “It’s gonna be a tough match, but I’m ready for it, ready for a big fight. The key is just to try to stay aggressive and really keep believing in my shots. That will be the key against Simona tomorrow.”
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