In a battle of multi-Grand Slam champions, Garbine Muguruza stopped Victoria Azarenka coming from a set down to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Azarenka had won 14 of her last 15 coming in, but Muguruza was able to outlast the Belarussian in a tough three sets.
“I think it was a tough match. I knew it was going to be a tough match. She’s a good player, she’s playing good, she’s with a lot of confidence,” Muguruza said.
“I knew it was going to be a tough battle. I was ready for it. I stood behind her and waiting for my opportunities. She was playing great at the beginning. She took the first set. I kept myself together and said, ‘Okay, let’s start another battle in the second set.'”
Simona Halep will be next for Muguruza. The Romanian got a retirement from Yulia Putintseva who withdrew down 6-2, 2-0 due to a back issue.
Muguruza has won four from six against her fellow French Open winner.
“Every time I played well against her, as much as possible aggressive,” said Halep. “If I play my best game and if I feel great physically on court, I have a big chance to win the match. But every time is different, because she’s playing so hard. You don’t really know what to expect. It’s tough every time. So I don’t plan for a specific match, because you never know on court.”
Second seed Karolina Pliskova also reached the Rome semifinals. The big-serving Czech knocked out Elise Mertens 6-3, 3-6, 6-0.
“I think I played a great match. Even the second set I think there was some good moments,” said Pliskova. “But just started way too strong in the third, and I think definitely was maybe one of the best matches of course of this season, but it’s not so difficult because there was not many matches.
“I felt great. Especially the first set I think was maybe one of my best sets that I have played on clay ever.”
She’ll face 2019 French finalist Marketa Vondrousova who continued her great run crushing Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-0.
“I didn’t do so many errors, and I hit so many great drop shots,” Vondrousova said. “I also served really well, and overall, I think I played a great match today.
“She’s a great player and she beat me three times already. She’s a great runner, she hits hard and serves really well, but I think I just played better today.”
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