Maria Sharapova rallied from a four-game deficit in the second set to beat Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 6-4, 7-6 (3) on Thursday and reach the Italian Open quarter-finals.
Sharapova improved to 25-2 this year, and on Monday she will regain the No. 1 ranking, courtesy of Justine Henin’s retirement.
The Russian committed 35 unforced errors to Wozniacki’s 22, but led 37-16 in winners.
“I’m making way too many unforced errors,” Sharapova said. “That’s something I’m going to have to work on, because not too many players are going to let me back in the set like Wozniacki today.”
Also advancing were defending champion Jelena Jankovic and both Williams sisters.
The fourth-seeded Jankovic routed Maria Kirilenko 6-1, 6-1 to set up a meeting with seventh-seeded Venus Williams, who led 3-0 in both sets of a 7-5, 6-2 win over No. 10 Vera Zvonareva.
Serena Williams overcame some erratic moments before eliminating Italian wild card Sara Errani 6-4, 6-3 and now will play 34th-ranked Alize Cornet of France, who upset last year’s runner-up Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-4.
“It would be great if Serena and I could play in the final,” Venus Williams said. “It’s hard these days.”
The Williamses haven’t met in a final since Serena beat her older sister for the 2003 Wimbledon title.
While they are on opposite sides of the draw, Venus has a tough contest with Jankovic. The pair are tied 3-3 in their career meetings, with Venus winning their last match in a third-set tiebreaker at last year’s US Open.
“We always have great matches, but I feel better now than I have all year,” said Venus, who returned to the tour this week after missing a month with an unspecified medical problem.
On Wednesday, Sharapova struggled with her consistency in a three-set win over Dominika Cibulkova, a match that finished near midnight.
“I went to sleep at 2 or 2:30, and waking up was very difficult this morning, but obviously experience helps in those situations,” Sharapova said. “The most important thing now is recovery.”
Sharapova next faces 2005 runner-up Patty Schnyder, who edged last year’s Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7).
Also, Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria reached the last eight when Victoria Azarenka retired while trailing 6-2, 1-0 with a left knee injury.
Pironkova’s quarter-final opponent will be No. 6 Anna Chakvetadze, who eliminated No. 12 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.
The 26th-ranked Kirilenko appeared to have run out of energy after winning two three-set matches on Wednesday.
“I didn’t expect such an easy match. She’s a very good player,” Jankovic said. “I just went out with the plan to play aggressively and really go for my shots, and that’s what I did.”
Jankovic is struggling with a cold, and she had an assortment of tissues and medication that she used on changeovers.
“The doctors gave me a lot of things to take, and that’s what I have to do to play,” she said. “I’m still on antibiotics and trying to recover.”