Daria Gavrilova has emerged as Australia’s biggest French Open hope after upsetting former Roland Garros champion Svetlana Kuznetsova to storm into the Italian Open quarter-finals.
Gavrilova’s 2-6 7-5 6-4 victory over Russia’s two-time grand slam champion secured the 23-year-old a last-eighth meeting with 15th seed Kiki Bertens.
With former French Open runner-up and four-times semifinalist Sam Stosur struggling to find her claycourt form and Nick Kyrgios struggling with injury after a fine run on hard courts, Gavrilova looms as Australia’s best chance to make a deep run in Paris.
The 23-year-old will be seeded at Roland Garros for the first time after reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open for the second year in a row and continuing her strong form on clay.
Bertens beat Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 to confirm her date with Gavrilova.
In-form sixth seed Simona Halep could be waiting for Gavrilova in the semi-finals after holding off Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 4-6 6-0 in her third-round match.
“I feel great. I feel my game, I feel strong on court, my legs are strong, mentally strong, so I feel good on court,” said last week’s Madrid champion.
“Because of the confidence. I feel every shot I hit; I feel every ball. It doesn’t matter where I am on court. I just feel good, and I have confidence that I can return the ball pretty well.”
Ninth seed Venus Williams, the 1999 champion, ended the run of British third seed Johanna Konta 6-1 3-6 6-1.
“I love this tournament, and I love Rome. It’s one of my favourite places on earth, so that’s one of the reasons why I have always come here,” said 36-year-old Williams.
“I’ve had a good amount of success here.”
Williams next meets reigning French Open champion and third seed Garbine Muguruza, a 7-5 6-4 winner over Julia Goerges.
Estonian qualifier Anett Kontaveit, who beat top seed Angelique Kerber in the previous round, continued her success as she put out Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 6-1 6-1.
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