By Ros Satar

  • Serena Williams [1] v Svetlana Kuznetsova [9]
  • Timea Bacsinszky [11] v Garbiñe Muguruza [3]
  • Irina-Camelia Begu v Misaki Doi
  • Madison Keys v Barbora Strycova

ROME, ITALY – The quarter-finals as World No. 1 Serena Williams leads the way into the last eight – We look at the pick of the four matches after the seeds scattered in the first three rounds.

Britwatch Tennis: Full Draws and Schedules

Serena Williams [1] v Svetlana Kuznetsova [9] – H2H: Williams leads 8-3

Williams looked like she might join the ranks of the seeds waiting for transport out of Rome after trailing an early break against compatriot and qualifier Christina McHale. Williams, back on court for the first time since Miami, had a comfortable enough straight sets win over Anna-Lena Friedsam in the opening round (benefiting from a bye in to the second round) but McHale was not shying away from the challenge.

From the start of the match she was putting Williams under pressure – forcing her to save three break points in the opening game before pressing home her advantage a few games later. Williams crucially broke back to level 5-5 before a see-saw tie-break saw set points evaporate and even drift to McHale’s side of the scoreboard, before edging back.

It was business as usual though for Williams who won six games in a row to seal her place in the last eight.

“I feel good, because I feel like she hits a lot of balls back,” she said in her post-match press conference, as reported by WTATennis.com. “I wanted to get a match in like that where she gets a lot of balls back and see how I was able to do against that and see how I was physically after that, too.

“I think physically, you know, every day is a new day for me, and I just try to see when I wake up. I just go from there.”

Kuznetsova fought through a tough three-setter against Aussie battler Daria Gavrilova in what had to be one of the best matches so far this tournament. The older Russian looked very sharp in the opening set, before Gavrilova produced some outstanding tennis to level things up.

It was a high quality tussle that saw Kuznetsova use all her experience to get past Gavrilova, and Williams knows this will be no easy match up between two ‘veterans’ of the tour.

She continued: “I think right now she’s probably one of the best clay-court players. I couldn’t ask for a better match going into Roland Garros, so this is a perfect opportunity for me, win or lose, to see where I am and get ready for what I’m ready for, which is the main event.”

Prediction: Williams in three sets

 

Timea Bacsinszky [11] v Garbiñe Muguruza [3]

At the start of the clay court season, Muguruza had sounded confident of her return to the clay, calling it her ‘territory’ in Stuttgart, but has failed to stick together back to back wins on the dirt this year, until this week. She was merciless in her dispatch of Ekaterina Makarova, for the loss of just one game, and it looked as though she had the same in mind.

She breezed past Jelena Ostapenko in the first set, before the Latvian put up a little more of a fight in the second set, breaking the Spaniard for a 3-1 lead, but Muguruza kept her head down, eventually winning the last five games in a row to book her quarter-final berth.

Bacsinszky put paid to an all-Spanish quarter-final when she battled past Carla Suárez Navarro, coming from a set down and within two points of being on the wrong end of the score-line, eventually prevailing 5-7 7-5 6-2.

Bacsinszky is an all out battler, upending Simona Halep in fine style in Miami and of course booking her place here from behind. This will be a big test for Muguruza, as they gear up for some big hitting from two attacking players.

Prediction: Muguruza in three sets.

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