ROME -- Rebecca Sramkova's breakthrough has been a long time coming. This week, the Internazionali BNL d'Italia marked only the fifth time in her career that the 27-year-old, No.120-ranked qualifier had won a main-draw match.

Indeed, she's won three in a row for the very first time. She knocked off wild card Giorgia Pedone and No.28 seed Katie Boulter before a seesawing 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Sofia Kenin on Sunday to reach the last 16. Sramkova will make her Top 100 debut, an accomplishment the Slovak describes as "a dream come true."

Following her win, Sramkova sat down to discuss her arduous road to this point:

She's almost blind in her left eye

Sramkova was born with a condition that left her with little sight in her left eye. In fact, that's the reason she took up tennis in the first place. She hoped that a sport that requires high levels of depth perception and hand-eye coordination would improve her vision.

Her sight didn't get better, but her tennis did. Unhampered by what most would consider a significant obstacle to excelling at the sport, Sramkova has developed a smooth hard-hitting game. Against Kenin, she reeled off a string of accurate backhand drives. Facing a point to go down 4-1 in the third set, she came up with a drop shot return winner.

Sramkova doesn't know how she's managed to do this, because it's all she's ever known.

"I don't know how it is to see good," she said. "I tried wearing contact lenses, but the vision was not that much different and I couldn't stand the feeling."

Her breakthrough has been delayed by a series of injuries

Her eyesight hasn't been an issue, but various other injuries have.

"I didn't play for almost one year because I had problems with my back," she said. That was in 2017. Sramkova had climbed as high as No.111 at the age of 20 before being sidelined.

"Then I had problems with my shoulder and with my abs. When I started to play good again I had a stress fracture in my leg. That was two years ago. I had a surgery in 2022. My bone was in three pieces, and they took two pieces off. Well, it took me three more months to get back in shape."

Sramkova now feels she has a good team around her. Coach Milan Martinec, with whom she has worked for one-and-a-half years, and fitness trainer David Olas, who have helped "push me through the bad times." No wonder that her goal with them is simply "to stay healthy for a longer time."

She's determined to 'be someone'

Asked what kept her going, Sramkova's answer was simple.

"I want to be someone," she said. "That's why we do this sport -- to be someone. You see all the other girls around you fighting to be someone, and you want that, too. That's what keeps me pushing."

Over the years, Sramkova has taken down several "someones." She owns two Top 20 wins. She beat Petra Kvitova at Prague in 2021 and Karolina Muchova in Warsaw last year. The latter was a 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 thriller that put Sramkova into her first WTA quarterfinal. Before that, she'd also scored victories over numerous peers who would go on to great things, from Barbora Krejcikova to Jasmine Paolini.

"I know I can play with players like this," she said. "And I need more wins like that."

Warsaw: Sramkova saves four match points, stays perfect vs. Muchova

Her talisman is the wolf, and her favorite player is Serena Williams

Sramkova's phone wallpaper is a roaring wolf, an animal she describes as her "talisman." A small wolf toy also accompanies her around the world.

"It's always fighting," she says. "It's fierce. It's about winning, not showing off."

For similar reasons, Sramkova's idol growing up was Serena Williams. But she can't pick a favorite match or memory.

"I was enjoying every match she played," she said. "Her confidence and her power."

Sramkova likes to paint to relax

Sramkova's father was a painter, and she's followed in his footsteps when it comes to her down time. She favors modern art, and makes sure to visit galleries wherever she travels -- particularly in Paris and Vienna.

Painting, she says, relaxes her.

"I've only made six or seven full pieces, but I enjoy doing it," she said.