Reigning French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza withstood a tough challenge from Julia Goerges to reach her first clay court quarterfinal of the season at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.
WTA Staff

ROME, Italy - Garbiñe Muguruza looks to be picking up steam ahead of her much-anticipated French Open title defense, roaring back from a second set deficit to defeat Julia Goerges, 7-5, 6-4, to reach the Internazionali BNL d'Italia quarterfinals.

"I'm very happy with every victory, honestly," Muguruza said after the match. "I feel like right now every girl, every woman, is playing very good. You never know, when they go to the court, who is going to win.

"It's so even that I felt today like if I didn't play well and concentrated, I could have easily lost this match. I was very happy also because I didn't play my best in Madrid, and in Stuttgart I kind of lost in the third set. So I'm happy to be able to win matches here in Rome."

Muguruza reached the semifinals in Italy a year ago, going on to take home her maiden major title on the terre battue. The Spaniard needed three sets on Wednesday night to overcome a barrage from Jelena Ostapenko, and showed marked improvement against Goerges less than 24 hours later.

"I don't feel more relaxed," she said when asked to compare her current mindset to last year's. "I feel that it's all less dramatic. The losses are less dramatic. I feel like I have more responsibility. I think it's a good thing, but I just feel that.

"I'm also less emotional. Before, it was hard for me to handle the joy, the sadness. I'm kind of finding a better balance, and hopefully I can find more and more, because that's kind of my goal, to improve that."

Goerges is an accomplished clay courter in her own right, winning the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix back in 2011, and had her chances to pull off the upset on Next Gen Arena, getting within a game of the opening set and leading 4-1 in the second.

"She's a very aggressive player with a big serve. Sometimes she went far up in the score - like in the second set - but I was waiting. I knew I would have my opportunities later. I didn't really panic on that.

"I'm happy to be able to come down from 4-1, play good and win 6-4."
 

In the end, Muguruza pulled through when it mattered most, hitting 17 winners to secure her spot in the last eight after one hour and 47 minutes on court.

Up next for the former World No.2 is 1999 Rome champion Venus Williams, who knocked out British No.1 Johanna Konta in three sets earlier today.

With less than two weeks before her French Open title defence begins, Muguruza is trying to take the pressure in stride.

"People will ask if I'm going to win the French Open again, I'm, like, 'I don't know.' I think it's not a very logical question when they ask me these. I'm, like, 'Yeah, hopefully.'

"But I think it's very hard to do like what Halep did. She won Madrid and next year she wins the same tournament. I think that's very hard to do, and especially like Grand Slams.

"I'm not thinking a lot about French Open. For the last month, all the questions everyone is asking me are about French Open. I know I'm the defending champion. Hey, not a lot of girls can say that. So I will take it in a positive way and we will see what happens."