Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.
The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes.
The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces to see off the challenge of the Russian-Czech pairing.
The Taiwanese-Czech duo in the semi-finals were due to face unseeded Hayley Carter of the US and Luisa Stefani of Brazil, who rallied from a set down to defeat Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic and Andreja Klepac of Slovenia 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 10-8 in 1 hour, 42 minutes.
Their match was to begin at about press time last night.
Hsieh and Strycova are looking to claim their fourth title of the season after victories at the Brisbane International in January, and the Dubai Championships and Qatar Open in February before the WTA Tour was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the women’s singles, Simona Halep and defending champion Karolina Pliskova eased into the quarter-finals on Friday and Halep yesterday to the semi-finals.
Top seed Halep on Friday rallied from 3-0 down in the first set to see off Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska in a 7-5, 6-4 victory that took 1 hour, 28 minutes.
“Big picture, I think it was a great match and gives me confidence that even in these conditions with a big hitter that I could win in two sets,” Halep said.
The two-time Rome finalist yesterday beat Yulia Putintseva, who on Friday battled back from 6-4, 5-2 down to see off fellow Kazakh Elena Rybakina, the 10th seed, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2.
Halep won after leading 6-2, 2-0 when Putintseva retired.
World No. 4 Pliskova dominated 65th-ranked Anna Blinkova 6-4, 6-3 in their third-round match.
The second-seed Czech, who defended her Brisbane title in January, got off to a stumbling start with two double faults in the opening game allowing Blinkova to break, but the 22-year-old Russian was unable to build on her advantage against the former world No. 1, who was to play 11th seed Elise Mertens after press time last night after she got past Danta Kovinic 6-4, 6-4.
Ninth seed Garbine Muguruza advanced to her sixth quarter-final this year with a straight-sets win over last year’s Rome finalist Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-1.
The former French Open winner was to play US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka at about press time last night. Azarenka advanced after Russian Daria Kasatkina retired injured in their first-set tiebreak.
Former Rome winner Elina Svitolina got past two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 and was to play Marketa Vondrousova yesterday.
In the men’s singles, Rafael Nadal swept aside Serb Dusan Lajovic to reach the quarter-finals on Friday, brushing him aside 6-1, 6-3.
Nadal declared himself pleased with how his return was going after easing past fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in his first match earlier in the week.
“I played two good solid matches,” he said. “I played at, I think, a very positive level of tennis. Of course it needs to keep improving. I need to keep working in a couple of things that things are not coming automatic, but I can’t ask for more. Have been another great evening for me against another good opponent. Much better, not what I expected.”
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