PALERMO, Italy - Former Top 30 star Camila Giorgi survived a stern test from Slovenian teenager Kaja Juvan, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the 31st Palermo Ladies Open quarterfinals.
"I think I was more solid in playing my game," Giorgi said of the final two sets. "I was moving more forward, so it was much better for me."
The former World No.26 caught fire after dropping the opening set against the in-form Juvan to reach her second WTA quarterfinal of the season after two hours and two minutes on Center Court.
Giorgi had been rounding into form before the WTA tour shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching the quarterfinals of the Open 6ème Sens – Métropole de Lyon back in February, and after ousting Rebecca Peterson in the first round, began her clash with Juvan by taking a 2-0 lead.
Juvan's previous best result had been a run to a WTA 125K semifinal in Bol last spring, and the 19-year-old began 2020 making strides towards a Top 100 debut, qualifying for the Australian Open main draw and surviving a thrilling three-setter against five-time Wimbledon winner Venus Williams at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel.
Matching Giorgi's inimitable aggression with some big shots of her own, Juvan, who flipped a 1-6, 4-5 deficit against 2019 French Open finalist and No.2 seed Marketa Vondrosova in the previous round, outpaced the Italian in the opening set, hitting 18 winners to 13 while making fewer errors en route to winning seven off the next eight games.
A trio of tense service games saw Giorgi emerge on top by the middle of the second set, breaking once more and striking a booming forehand winner to engineer a slew of set points. The unseeded Italian only needed one and Juvan was forced to call a medical time out ahead of the final set.
"At the start of the match, I was making too many tactical mistakes because I was trying to finish points for no reason. I started to adopt better tactics in the second set and that's when things started working for me."
Juvan saw her aggressive inroads dialed all the way back after the first set, striking three winners to Giorgi's 14 in the second, and quickly fell behind a break to start the decider as the 28-year-old landed a backhand return winner.
"Things are going well from me from the baseline. When I play my game, things are very good. When I start going for too many lines, it doesn't work out as well."
Up an identical 2-0 lead as she had been to start, Giorgi weathered a rebound from Juvan to serve her way to a 5-1 lead.
The Slovenian youngster made a brave last stand at the brink of defeat, shrugging off fatigue and physical concerns to break Giorgi as she served for the match in between two strong service holds.
Undaunted by the late surge, Giorgi kept pressing to earn two match points, slicing a deep approach that clipped the baseline and securing victory on her second.
"I think I need to improve everything in my game because we're still at the start. I've been making more mistakes than usual, I think, and so I need to play more matches to get better rhythm."
Up next for the Italian is the winner of Thursday's final second round encounter, No.7 seed Dayana Yastremska, who dispatched French lucky loser Oceane Dodin in straight sets.
"I think it's going to be a good match. I will be focused on my game."