Maria Sakkari conquered Coco Gauff again under the lights on Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia to reach her second career quarterfinal at the WTA 1000 event.
The 6-4, 7-5 win was Sakkari's fourth in five career meetings against Gauff, while the quarterfinal berth is her best showing at clay-court tournament so far this season after first- and second-round exits in Stuttgart and Madrid, respectively.
Gauff's only prior win against Sakkari came 12 months ago at the Foro Italico, where the American teenager won a 6-1, 1-6, 6-1 match on her way to making the semifinals. There was no repeat in Round 3 this year, but Sakkari had to dig deep to see Gauff off in straight sets: Leading 6-4, 3-1, the Greek had two points to break Gauff again and lead 4-1. She ultimately won the match's final three games.
Sakkari moves through to a quarterfinal meeting against Mutua Madrid Open champion Ons Jabeur, where she'll attempt to stop the Tunisian's winning streak at nine to reach the last four in Rome for a second time. As a qualifier in 2019, she made it that far before losing to eventual winner Karolina Pliskova.
The two now-Top 10 players have split their two prior meetings, but neither have come since they've established themselves in the world's elite; Sakkari won their quarterfinal match indoors in Ostrava, Czech Republic in 2020, while Jabeur's win came seven years ago when both players were on the rise and playing on the ITF World Tennis Tour.
Anisimova blitzes Collins for back-to-back WTA 1000 QFs
Amanda Anisimova is through to another clay-court WTA 1000 quarterfinal: In a match between compatriots Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, Anisimova blitzed No.7 seed Danielle Collins in just under an hour.
The 20-year-old reached her first WTA 1000 quarterfinal last week in Madrid by winning two three-setters and beating a former World No.1 in Victoria Azarenka; this week, she bounced back from being bageled in her first-round match against Tereza Martincova in a three-set win, and knocked off Tokyo gold medalist and No.12 seed Belinda Bencic in straight sets before bouncing Australian Open finalist Collins 6-2, 6-2.
Utilizing pinpoint accuracy in her return games, Anisimova broke Collins' serve five times, but also benefitted from an off showing by the World No.9, who beat former champion Simona Halep under the lights last night: Collins made 24 unforced errors in 16 games and served six double faults.
Melbourne Summer Set 2 champion Anisimova has reached the quarterfinals or better in four tournaments this year, including all three she's played so far in the clay-court season. She now boasts six career wins against Top 10 players, and bids for another next round. Standing between Anisimova and the semifinals is Aryna Sabalenka, who defeated Anisimova's compatriot Jessica Pegula to reach the last eight.
The American is 4-0 against Sabalenka all-time, and has beaten her twice already on clay this spring in three sets. In Madrid, Anisimova ended Sabalenka's attempt at to defend her 2021 title in the opening round.