ROME – Russian three-time champion Maria Sharapova rolled to a 6-3, 6-4 victory Thursday over Daria Gavrilova to book a spot in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open, a key French Open tune-up event.
Sharapova needed an hour and 38 minutes to overcome the feisty Australian, who had upset Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) in a more than three-hour battle Wednesday night.
The 40th-ranked Russian dominated with her return game, breaking her opponent on seven occasions and winning 19 of Gavrilova’s 22 second-serve points.
Sharapova struggled at times on her own serve – getting broken four times, committing six double faults and winning just 56 percent of her first-serve points – but her high winning percentage on second-serve points (53 percent) allowed her to clinch a relatively routine victory.
Even though the victory was not as clean as possible, Sharapova saw the glass as half-full in her post-match interview.
“I just like the way that I’m competing.” she was quoted as saying on the WTA’s Web site. “I like the way that I feel out there. I think that’s really important, you know ... I just like the attitude with which I’m playing with.”
Next up for Sharapova in Friday’s quarterfinals will be Latvian reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who rallied for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Briton Johanna Konta.
That match will be the first-ever meeting between two of tennis’ most powerful baseline players.