Italian open: Rybakina advances to quarterfinals; Swiatek, Vekic rained out

Rome, May 16 (IANS) World No. 6 Elena Rybakina advanced to her first Italian open quarterfinal after defeating Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 6-3, here.

The reigning Wimbledon champion will face either two-time defending champion Iga Swiatek or No.24 Donna Vekic in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Swiatek and Vekic were set to face off in the Monday night match on Court Centrale, but the match was canceled due to rain. The Round of 16 between Paula Badosa and Karolina Muchova was also canceled. Both matches are scheduled for Tuesday.

Swiatek and Vekic will play the third match on Centrale, not before 1:30 p.m. (Local time). Badosa and Muchova will play the fourth match on Court Pietrangeli, not before 3:00 p.m.

Rome has been a surprising salve for Rybakina’s slow start to the clay-court season. The Indian Wells champion was forced to retire in Stuttgart due to a back injury and was knocked out of Madrid in the third round by Anna Kalinskaya.

“Coming here I didn’t expect much because unfortunately Rome for me is the worst for my allergies,” Rybakina said, referring to the heavy pollen associated with the tournament.

“I’m happy that I’m managing to win and get these matches,” she added.

Facing Vondrousova for a second time in her career, Rybakina overpowered the crafty Czech to level their head-to-head to 1-1. Rybakina hit 28 winners to Vondrousova’s 13 and broke the 2019 French Open finalist five times.

Rybakina now awaits the winner between No.1 Swiatek and Vekic. A match against Swiatek would be the third between the pair this season, with Rybakina having won all four sets they played. Those wins came on the hard courts at the Australian Open and Indian Wells.

The 23-year old Rybakina acknowledged a change in surface to Swiatek’s favored clay could change the equation of their match-up.

“I think it changes it a lot. It’s more rallies, it’s more physical, she has more time, I have more time. It’s going to be a tough one for sure. I think it’s much different than the hard courts for sure,” Rybakina said.

“I’m not expecting much. If Iga wins, or against Donna, for me it’s a practice. I’m taking it this way. Hopefully, it will help me perform at the French Open,” she added.

–IANS

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