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Top seed Naomi Osaka, former finalist Victoria Azarenka and Madrid champion Kiki Bertens all won two matches on Thursday to reach the last eight at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
Bertens extended her winning streak to eight matches with hard-fought victories over lucky loser Amanda Anisimova and Carla Suarez Navarro at the Foro Italico.
The Dutch No. 6 seed was two points from defeat in her first match of the day against American teenager Anisimova and was also forced to dig deep against Spain’s Suarez Navarro as she booked her place in the quarter-finals.
Awaiting her in the next round is Osaka, who enjoyed a slightly more straightforward path to the last eight with 6-3 6-3 victories over both Dominika Cibulkova and Mihaela Buzarnescu.
“It’s a bit unusual for me because I’ve never played two rounds in one day. I think this is the first time. So that was very different.Yeah, it turned out fine for me in the end,” said Osaka.
“I think just to get a straight-set win over both of them. Cibulkova I played in Madrid. It was really close, the second set. I was keeping that in mind when I was playing against her today. Then Michaela, I played her on grass. I expected a different match. That’s sort of what I got.”
Johanna Konta also had a good day at the office, overcoming Grand Slam champions Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams to seal her place in the quarter-finals.
“I knew I had a tough match against Sloane. I just went into that match really trying to do the best that I can. I was pleased with how I was competing. To come through that match, come back again this afternoon, I was looking forward to playing Venus again. I always enjoy being on court with her. Just pleased to have come through that match as well, two tough opponents,” said Konta.
Next up for the Brit is Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova who backed up her victory over No. 3 seed Simona Halep with a 7-5 2-6 6-2 triumph over Russia’s Daria Kasatkina to advance to the final eight in her first appearance in the tournament.
Victoria Azarenka, who knocked defending champion Elina Svitolina out of the tournament on Tuesday evening, continued to advance in the Italian capital. The 2013 finalist was leading Garbine Muguruza, her third round opponent, 6-4 3-1 when the Spaniard retired with a left thigh injury and will now face Karolina Pliskova for a place in the semi-finals.
Pliskova, like Azarenka, was one of the few players who only had one match to play on Thursday having advanced to the third round on Tuesday. Her opponent, Sofia Kenin, had upset No. 13 seed Madison Keys earlier in the day and started well against the No. 4 seed, leading by a set and a break before the experienced Czech steadied the ship. The American started to show signs of fatigue as the match was extended to a third set and eventually fell to a 4-6 6-4 6-3 defeat.
Qualifier Kristina Mladenovic maintained her impressive run here by taking out the in-form Belinda Bencic 6-2 2-6 6-1 and No. 8 seed Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-3 in her two matches. The Frenchwoman will face fellow qualifier Maria Sakkari in the quarter-finals, the Greek player progressing when No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova retired at 7-5 5-7 4-0 down in their night match.