Simona Halep, Venus Williams and Daria Gavrilova secure their spot in the quarter finals in Rome
Venus Williams beat Johanna Konta 6-1 3-6 6-1 to secure her spot in the quarter finals at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, where she will face either last year’s Rome semifinalist Garbine Muguruza or Julia Goerges. Williams will be looking to win in Rome for the second time 18 years after her only triumph in the Eternal capital when she was 18 years old.
Konta had defeated Williams three times in a row at the Australian Open, in Stanford and Miami since Williams beat the Sydney-born British player in Wuhan in 2015. Venus converted on her second break point in the second game to open up a 4-1 lead. She held her serve after saving a break point in the fifth game before breaking serve to love to race out to a 5-1. The second set came down to the eighth game when Konta converted her fifth break point of the set to take a 5-3 lead en route to closing out the second set. Williams fended off a break point in the third game before breaking serve twice in the fourth and sixth games to wrap up the match in 1 hour and 49 minutes.
Last week’s Madrid champion Simona Halep scored her eighth consecutive win beating this year’s Rabat champion Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 4-6 6-0 on the famous Pietrangeli Court to get through into the quarter final.
After a tough start to her season Halep found her best form on her favourite clay surface. She started her clay campaign with a semifinal in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and continued it with a title in Madrid and now the quarter final in Rome. Pavlyuchenkova has enjoyed a solid season so far reaching the quarter finals at the Australian Open and in Indian Wells and winning two titles in Monterrey and Rabat.
Halep had won all her previous six head-to-head matches against Pavlyuchenkova but they met for the first time on clay.
Halep got an early break in the first game. She went up a double break in the fourth game, as Pavlyuchenkova made a double fault and netted a backhand. The Romanian player held her serve to open up a 4-1 lead before breaking serve again to close out the first set 6-1. Pavlyuchenkova got an early break at the start of the second set to open up a 2-0 lead. Halep broke back to draw level to 2-2. Halep did not convert four game points and dropped her serve with a double fault. Pavlyuchenkova got two breaks to win the second set by 6-4. Halep broke three times to take a one-sided third set in just 25 minutes setting up a quarter final against Anett Kontaveit. Halep beat Kontaveit earlier this year in Miami on hard-court.
Australian qualifier Daria Gavrilova fought back from one set down to edge past Svetlana Kuznetsova 2-6 7-5 6-4. Kuznetsova won all their four previous head-to-head matches in Dubai 2013, in Rome 2016, in last year’s Moscow’s final and in St. Petersburg last February. Gavrilova earned two break points in the second game but Kuznetsova turned the match in her favour by winning 12 of the next 15 points. Kuznetsova, finalist in Rome in 2007 and 2009, broke serve twice and did not face any break points in the next games to win the first set by 6-2 on her first set point. Both players held their serve in the first six games. Gavrilova held her serve in the seventh game at deuce, as Pavlyuchenkova made a forehand volley error. The young Australian player got her only break of the second set in the eighth game to open up a 5-3 lead. Kuznetsova broke back in the next game, as Gavrilova was serving for the set. In the 10th game the Russian player saved a set point with an ace. Gavrilova held her serve before breaking serve on her second set point to force the match to the third set. Kuznetsova went up a break twice in the decisive set but Gavrilova broke back both times in the second and sixth games. In the 8th game Gavrilova rallied from 0-30 by winning four consecutive points to break serve earning the chance to serve for the match. The Melbourne-resident faced four break-back points and saved them but dropped her serve on the fifth opportunity. In the 10th game Kuznetsova made a double fault to face a match point. Gavrilova converted her opportunity at the first time of asking with an inside-out forehand winner to close out the third set 6-4 after two hours and 23 minutes. Gavrilova will have a chance to qualify for her second semifinal in Rome tomorrow.