ROME, Italy - Mutua Madrid Open champion Kiki Bertens won her eighth straight match and second of the day at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, surviving a three-set thriller against 2015 runner-up Carla Suárez Navarro, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.
After being two points from defeat against Claro Open Colsanitas champion Amanda Anisimova earlier in the day, Bertens pulled out another battle to overcome the Spaniard after one hour and 49 minutes on Court 6.
"I think it was only fight today that got me through," she said after her second match. "It maybe wasn't the best tennis, but sometimes that happens where you just have to find a way. Luckily, I found it."
The big-hitting Dutchwoman is fresh off the biggest title - and highest ranking at World No.4 - of her career at the Caja Magica in Madrid, but a washed out Wednesday delayed the start of her Rome campaign to Thursday, where she commenced against Anisimova.
"I got to hit yesterday morning because I was first on, so at 9AM, I warmed up until 9:30 when I thought, maybe we'll be able to go on court, but it didn't happen. I was on-site from 8AM to 6PM, so it was a long day, but for everyone!
"This morning, I saw the schedule for 10AM, so the alarm went off at 6:30. Not my best morning!"
Hours later, she was back on court to take on Suárez Navarro, who played a set and three games before 2008 finalist Alizé Cornet was forced to retire due to a right thigh injury.
Bertens nonetheless began stronger despite playing the longer match, grabbing a 3-0 double break lead before holding on to take the opening set on her fourth opportunity.
"It's great and so different from playing in Madrid to here. I'm so happy I could get wins over two tough and different opponents. It was just fighting, fighting, fighting, and hitting the ball where I could. It wasn't always the best, but good to still get some wins here."
The Spanish veteran seized on an ensuing lull from Bertens to sweep the second set, breaking serve twice and levelling the match in under 30 minutes.
A semifinalist at Roland Garros back in 2016, Bertens rebounded in some style early in the decider, racing out to 4-0 lead, and though Suárez Navarro clawed one of the breaks back, the rest of the match went with serve as the No.6 seed booked her spot in the last eight.
"After the first match, I felt more mentally fatigued, but of course after a long second match, you feel it physically, as well. We'll just prepare as good as we can for tomorrow, give another day of fighting, and see if it's good enough.
Up next will be World No.1 Naomi Osaka, who won a pair of 6-3, 6-3 matches against Dominika Cibulkova and Mihaela Buzarnescu earlier in the day.
"It'll be a tough match, of course. She's a great player, and the best player at the moment, being No.1. I'll have to throw in a lot of mixed shots because getting in rhythm with her, I won't have a chance! I'll need my variety, and a big fight.
"I'm trying not to think too much about tomorrow, though, because the thought of one more day on the tennis court might make me cry!" she added with a laugh. "I'm so tired! Seriously, I'm just happy to be through and be proud of myself. I still felt my energy, and felt good after Madrid. I thought two matches in one day might be too much and we'll try tomorrow again!"