Gavrilova stuns Kuznetsova in Rome

Published by AAP

Daria Gavrilova, who had to qualify for the Italian Open after forgetting to enter, stunned world No.8 Kuznetsova. Photo: Getty Images
Daria Gavrilova stunned Sveta Kuznetsova to reach the Italian Open quarterfinals, while Simona Halep and Venus Williams marched on.

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.

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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.

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“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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