World No 1 Ashleigh Barty eased into the quarter-finals of the Italian Open on Thursday with a straight sets win over Russian Veronika Kudermetova.
The top-seeded Australian won through 6-3, 6-3 to set up a clash with US teenager Coco Gauff who earlier ousted Madrid winner Aryna Sabalenka.
Barty, 25, lost to Sabalenka in last weekend’s Madrid final and is warming-up for the French Open which she won in 2019.
Belarus’ Sabalenka, the world No 4 and seventh seed, fell 7-5, 6-3 to the 17-year-old Gauff, ranked 35, who reached her fourth quarter-final of the year.
“It will be great to see where my level is,” said Gauff of playing Barty. “I mean, she’s the No 1 player in the world. I have no pressure on me. I’m just going to go out there and see what I can do and try my best.”
Six of the WTA’s top ten players have already exited the Foro Italico including second-seed Naomi Osaka of Japan, four-time Rome winner Serena Williams, Sofia Kenin and Petra Kvitova.
Defending champion Simona Halep, the third seed, was forced out with a calf injury in her second round match.
“Hopefully I can continue that momentum into Paris,” continued Gauff of her bid to reach her second semi-final this year after Adelaide as she builds to the French Open.
“Obviously I want to keep going and keep going further. I’m not going to be satisfied until I reach my goal,” added Gauff who won her first WTA singles title at the 2019 Linz Open.
“Especially during that time people were saying, It’s a fluke, it will never happen again. I think I’ve proved all those people wrong. I’m going to continue to prove them wrong.”
Ashleigh Barty (AUS x1) bt Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-3, 6-3
Coco Gauff (USA) bt Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x7) 7-5, 6-3
Iga Swiatek (POL x15) bt Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5
Elina Svitolina (UKR x5) bt Garbine Muguruza (ESP x12) 6-4, 6-2
Karolina Pliskova (CZE x9) bt Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 7-5, 6-3
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) bt Angelique Kerber (GER) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Petra Martic (CRO) bt Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 3-6, 6-1, 6-2
Jessica Pegula (USA) bt Ekaterina Alexandrova (RUS) 6-2, 6-4
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