Sharapova defeats Gavrilova to reach Italian Open quarter-finals

Rome: Russian three-time champion Maria Sharapova rolled to a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Daria Gavrilova to book a spot in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open, a key French Open tune-up event.

Sharapova needed an hour and 38 minutes during the match on Thursday to overcome the feisty Australian, who had upset Spain’s GarbiƱe Muguruza 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) in a more than three-hour battle on Wednesday, Efe news reported.

The 40th-ranked Russian dominated with her return game, breaking her opponent on seven occasions and winning 19 of Gavrilova’s 22 second-serve points.

Sharapova struggled at times on her own serve – getting broken four times, committing six double faults and winning just 56 per cent of her first-serve points – but her high winning percentage on second-serve points (53 per cent) allowed her to clinch a relatively routine victory.

Even though the victory was not as clean as possible, Sharapova saw the glass as half-full in her post-match interview.

“I just like the way that I’m competing.” she was quoted as saying on the WTA’s Web site. “I like the way that I feel out there. I think that’s really important, you know… I just like the attitude with which I’m playing with.”

Next up for Sharapova in Friday’s quarter-finals will be Latvian reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who rallied for a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Briton Johanna Konta.

That match will be the first-ever meeting between two of tennis’ most powerful baseline players.