CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Simona Halep continued her march towards a first Western & Southern Open title - and, potentially, the No.1 ranking - with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Anastasija Sevastova in Thursday's third round.
No.8 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova joined Halep in the quarterfinals, knocking out Carla Suárez Navarro, 6-4, 6-2.
The Romanian will be appearing in the last eight in Cincinnati for the fifth straight year, having reached the final in 2015 and the semifinals last year. Kuznetsova returns to the quarterfinals for a second year in a row, having lost to eventual champion Karolina Pliskova in the round of eight last year.
Halep found herself trailing 4-2 in the opening set against Sevastova, who looked to win a set for the first time in the last four meetings against her Romanian foe.
However, the No.2 seed dug in from there as she faced the deficit and ran off the last four games of the set, as the Latvian succumbed to unforced errors in the most crucial stages of the set.
"The match felt quite tough; it was not easy at all," Halep assessed after the match. "I can say that I'm not playing my best tennis in this moment, but winning, even if I play less good, I think it's a big plus for me. It gives me a little bit more power, inside, that I can handle it.
"I won against 15th player in the world playing not as I want. It's a big thing, and I'm really happy about it."
Halep's momentum continued to begin the second set, as she staved off a pair of break points, and held on the serve courtesy of a sweetly struck forehand pass down the line.
The No.2 seeds run of games extended to seven when all was said and done, as she built an early break lead at 3-0 before Sevastova finally got on the board.
The No.15 seed struck back after getting her first game in seven with a love break, but Halep quickly responded in kind with a love break of her own to take an advantage she never relinquished for the duration of the match.
Meanwhile, Kuznetsova cruised to victory over Carla Suárez Navarro for the fourth time in seven career meetings, breaking a 3-3 tie in their head-to-head and scoring her first win over the Spaniard since 2013.
The No.8 seed broke serve five times in the match overall, breaking a 2-2 tie in the first set with a pair of breaks as she won the last four games of the set.
Suárez Navarro stayed close in the second set, as she responded when falling behind an early break to stay ahead on serve for much of the set. However, a decisive break in the seventh game swung the set in the Russian's favor, and Suárez Navarro was unable to create another break point opportunity for the rest of the one hour, 18-minute match.