Coco Gauff scored her first Top 10 victory of the season in the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Tuesday night in Rome by beating No.7 seed and Australian Open finalist Zheng Qinwen 7-6(4), 6-1.

After needing three sets to win each of her last two matches in Rome, winning a marathon opening set that lasted 71 minutes was key to Gauff's cause in victory, as she shook off failing to convert a set point in the ninth game. Set two was much more straightforward for the No.3 seed, who was 0-2 in matches against Top 10 players this year previously.Β 

From Gauff's first-ever pro-level match against Zheng to setting to another late-stage showdown with World No.1 Iga Swiatek, on for the top takeaways from Gauff's quarterfinal triumph.

Gauff has equaled her best-ever Rome result: Both players had a best-ever Internazionali BNL d'Italia result on the line coming into the match. Gauff last reached the semifinals in the Italian capital three years ago, while Zheng, who'd lost in the quarterfinals in her Rome debut 12 months ago to Veronika Kudermetova from a set ahead, was looking to break new ground both at the tournament itself and at WTA 1000 level.Β 

In the end, it was the reigning US Open champion who sealed a berth in her sixth career WTA 1000 semifinal in 1 hour and 49 minutes. It's also her second of the season, having first done so on home soil in Indian Wells in March.Β 

It was the first of their (possibly many) pro-level meetings: Gauff and Zheng had never played previously at Hologic WTA Tour level. However, six years ago, the two played as teenagers in the final of the prestigious Orange Bowl in Plantation, Fla.Β 

Gauff, 14, defeated Zheng, freshly 16, in the final 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in her last match as a junior to win the 18-and-under division title, making her the youngest winner of that tournament in 15 years. She came from a break down in the third set to win it.

"I's cool to see your peers move up," Gauff said, reflecting on her effort at that tournament following her fourth-round win over Paula Badosa. "It's also kind of existential in a way that competition is literally going to be the same for probably the next 10 years. It's going to be the same crew of people, God willing, everybody does well."

Now 20 and 21 years old, respectively, Gauff also said there was little for either player to glean from that result. But there was some similarities in Tuesday's affair, in that Gauff needed to regroup -- and briefly rally -- in a tightly-contested first set that lasted more than an hour. Gauff had a set point on her serve at 5-3 -- after the first seven games of the match went by without either player facing a break point -- only to see Zheng save it with the deft combination of a forehand drop shot and follow-up volley.Β 

'Point of the match!': Gauff and Zheng put on a show in a rousing rally

The set eventually went to a tiebreak, where Gauff won five of six pointed played to take it from a mini-break down at 3-2.Β 

Gauff then broke serve to start the second set and never looked back, as she raced away with the last four games. She lost just five points in three second-set service games.

A familiar foe awaits in the next round: The American has lost nine of her 10 career meetings with Swiatek -- including all three matches (and six sets) they've played on clay.

But of their three clay-court matches, the first one (also in Rome) was the most competitive. Gauff was two points away from winning the first set in the 2021 semifinals before losing 7-6(3), 6-3.Β 

Swiatek rolls past Keys to book return to Rome semifinals