Ons Jabeur keeps on winning, as the No.9 seed from Tunisia picked up her ninth consecutive match-win by defeating Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 6-2 at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Thursday.
Last week's Mutua Madrid Open champion has maintained her form in Rome, with the 61-minute victory over World No.40 Putintseva extending Jabeur's career-best winning streak. Jabeur is now into the Rome quarterfinals for the first time in her career.
"Honestly, I feel good that it didn’t go over two or three hours, because I know she can have long matches," Jabeur said afterward. "Pretty happy that I kept it simple."
Putintseva, who was the No.1 seed in qualifying earlier this week, notched her first Top 10 win in nearly three years on Wednesday when she upset No.8 seed Garbiñe Muguruza.
But Putintseva could not pick up her second straight Top 10 win as Jabeur cruised to her 15th clay-court victory of the season, which leads the tour.
Jabeur fired 18 winners, won 74 percent of second-service return points and fended off the only break point she faced all day, improving to 3-0 over Putintseva.
There was no separation between the players through 3-3 of the first set, but Jabeur took charge of the opener from there. Jabeur cracked a number of backhand returns to give her two straight breaks of the Putintseva serve and a one-set lead.
Jabeur eased to 4-2 in the second set before she faced a break point. However, the Tunisian used effective drop shots to carve her way to a hold for 5-2. She wrapped up the match in the next game with another backhand return forcing an error on her third match point.
Next up for Jabeur will be a quarterfinal duel with No.4 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece. Jabeur and Sakkari have split their two previous meetings, with their most recent match going Sakkari's way in Ostrava in 2020.
Jabeur called Sakkari "a great player, a great friend on tour. ... It’s gonna be a tough match. I know she plays really good: big serve, big forehand and really great backhand.
"Our last match was very close, I had my opportunities. I think I’m just going to go for it."
Kasatkina surprises Badosa
In Thursday's late-night match, World No.23 Daria Kasatkina upset No.2 seed Paula Badosa 6-4, 6-4. After four previous losses in the Rome Round of 16, Kasatkina at last moves into her first Internazionali BNL d'Italia quarterfinal.
"I feel like my level is growing with every match," Kasatkina said after her win. "I'm pretty happy with my level today, and I hope I'm going to be the same or better tomorrow."
Kasatkina continues her solid run of form against the Hologic WTA Tour's highest-ranked players. Kasatkina's 1-hour and 46-minute victory over World No.3 Badosa is her third Top 10 win of the 2022 season, and she has now won six of her past eight matches against Top 5 opposition.
Badosa had won their sole prior match handily, with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Kasatkina in this year's Sydney semifinals on hard court. But in their first clay-court meeting, Kasatkina used her groundstroke depth and rally tolerance to upend Badosa.
In a match which featured more service breaks than holds, Kasatkina was the more effective returner, converting seven of her 17 break points and winning 71 percent of points against the Badosa second service.
Kasatkina will next meet World No.29 Jil Teichmann in Friday's quarterfinals. Kasatkina won their previous meeting in straight sets at the Billie Jean King Cup last year.
"Jil, now she's in great condition, she just played the semis in Madrid," Kasatkina said. "She already beat very good players. She's lefty, it's clay, so yes, it's going to be a good match. ... We're the same age, we know each other pretty well, so I think it's going to be fun."