Barty & Gauff to meet in Rome quarters

May 17, 2021
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    Ashleigh BartyA good run in Rome would be ideal preparation for Ashleigh Barty for the French Open, which starts on 30 May

    World number one Ashleigh Barty set up an intriguing quarter-final against American teenager Coco Gauff at the Italian Open.

    Australian Barty beat Russia's Veronika Kudermetova 6-3 6-3, while Gauff earned a 7-5 6-3 win over Aryna Sabalenka, who won last week's event in Madrid.

    Gauff, widely tipped for a bright future after high-profile wins, has never played Barty in singles before.

    "It will be great to see where my level is," Gauff said.

    "I mean, she's the number one player in the world. I have no pressure on me.

    "I'm just going to go out there and see what I can do and try my best."

    It is the fourth quarter-final of the year for Gauff, who rose to prominence with her stunning run to the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2019 as a 15-year-old.

    That run included victory over seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, and she has since underlined her credentials as one to watch by beating other top players, including Naomi Osaka at the 2020 Australian Open.

    Thursday's victory over world number four Sabalenka was the teenager's second over a top-five player and comes against someone who was in good form on clay, with the Belarusian having beaten Barty in last week's Madrid final.

    Six of the top 10 women have been knocked out in Rome, including Osaka, defending champion Simona Halep and American Serena Williams.

    French Open champion Iga Swiatek, however, is into the quarter-finals after the 19-year-old Pole saved two match points in a 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 win over Barbora Krejcikova.

    Swiatek will face Elina Svitolina in the last eight after the Ukrainian fifth seed won 6-4 6-2 against Spain's two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza.

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