Halep extends winning streak; Pliskova, Mertens into last eight in Rome


Top seed Simona Halep extended her winning streak to 11 matches by reaching the quarter-finals in Rome on Friday, while Karolina Pliskova and Elise Mertens are also through to the last eight.

The results we expected

There’s no stopping Simona Halep on her beloved clay, it seems. The top-seeded Romanian was pushed hard but was still too good for Dayana Yastremska, advancing to the last eight in Rome with a 7-5, 6-4 victory.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova looks to be finding form at the right time, too, with the Czech beating Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova 6-4, 6-3 to set up a quarter-final clash with Elise Mertens. The Belgian 11th seed defeated Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 6-4, 6-4.

The surprises that happened

Yulia Putintseva is making the transition from hard courts, on which she did well at the US Open, with her 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 win over 10th seed and fellow Kazakh Elena Rybakina. That sends Putintseva through to a meeting with Halep.

An even more unexpected scene developed in the match between Victoria Azarenka and Daria Kasatkina. Following a 6-0, 6-0 rout of Sofia Kenin one day earlier, Azarenka found herself in a first-set tiebreaker against Kasatkina. The US Open runner-up suddenly advanced when the Russian rolled over on her ankle on the second point of the ‘breaker and was forced to retire.

Azarenka will face Garbine Muguruza in the quarterfinals after the ninth seed defeated No 7 Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-1.

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