ROME, Italy -- No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark overcame a familiar foe to reach the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Thursday night, ousting No.15 seed Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.
"[Sevastova] played really well, took the ball early, started using the angles," Wozniacki told the press, after her win. "So, it wasn’t an easy match, but I kept fighting, and I’m proud of that."
It was Wozniacki's fourth win in four meetings against Sevastova, although the Latvian did stage a second-set fightback to claim her first-ever set against the World No.2. Nevertheless, Wozniacki regrouped in the third set to advance to the elite eight in Rome after two hours and 14 minutes of play.
The Dane won a stellar 80 percent of her first-service points throughout the encounter, and had 31 winners to only 21 unforced errors. Sevastova had 30 winners of her own, but those were negated by 35 unforced errors.
Wozniacki will face Estonia's Anett Kontaveit in the Internazionali BNL d'Italia quarterfinals. Kontaveit defeated No.8 seed Venus Williams earlier on Thursday, 6-2, 7-6(3), picking up her second win over the American in as many weeks.
"[Kontaveit's] playing really well, she beat Venus earlier today, and obviously she feels good on this surface," said Wozniacki. "I’m just going to try and get some rest tonight and be ready for tomorrow."
After saving two break points in the opening game of the match, Wozniacki had very few troubles to take control of the first set. The Dane easily broke Sevastova for a 2-0 lead, and then raced to 5-1 with a second break, as the Latvian struggled with forehand miscues when facing break points.
Sevastova started to pick up her game in the latter stages of the set, and grabbed one break back when Wozniacki double faulted while down break point at 5-1. But Wozniacki broke Sevastova once more in the next game, closing out the set with a forehand drop shot for a winner.
The final point of the opening set was a harbinger of things to come, as the drop shots were out in full force from both players, as they maneuvered through the circuitous second set. Wozniacki deployed one en route to an early break of Sevastova to lead 2-0, but Sevastova broke back in the next game, reaching break point with her own drop shot, and converting it with a forehand winner.
At 3-3, Sevastova won the first point of the game with a backhand drop shot, and Wozniacki replied in the next point with a crafty forehand version of her own. Sevastova ended up breaking in that game to lead 4-3, but Wozniacki immediately broke back, leveling the set at 4-4 after a wide Sevastova backhand error.
Wozniacki held for 5-4, having saved a break point with another drop shot, and then reached match point in that game at 30-40. But Wozniacki fired a lob long to squander the chance, allowing Sevastova back to deuce, and two points later, the Latvian won a wily all-court point to hold for 5-5.
Sevastova was spurred on by her whisker-thin escape, and took command in the next game. The 15th seed blasted a forehand winner down the line to reach break point, and converted the opportunity with a backhand passing shot to lead 6-5. Sevastova routinely held serve in the next game, claiming her maiden set in eight tries against Wozniacki.
Neither player was troubled on serve in the decider until Sevastova stepped to the line at 3-2. The Latvian’s drop shots suddenly started to fail her in that game, as two poorly executed ones led Wozniacki to triple break point. A long forehand error by the Latvian ceded the one-break advantage to the No.2 seed.
That was all that Wozniacki would need to coast through the remainder of the contest. Serving for the match at 5-3, Wozniacki hit a backhand down the line which Sevastova could just barely nick with her racquet, setting up a second match point, 50 minutes after the Dane’s first match point. A Sevastova backhand into the net closed out the contest in favor of Wozniacki.