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By Chris Oddo | Thursday May 18, 2017

Make it eight wins in a row for red-hot Simona Halep, and 12 of 13. The Romanian started fast and finished strong on Thursday in Rome, taking out Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.

More: 10 Thoughts on the Sharapova French Open Wild Card Decision

It was Halep’s seventh victory over the Russian in seven lifetime meetings, and it sets up a quarterfinal clash with upstart qualifier Anett Kontaveit. The Estonian crushed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 6-1, 6-1. She is making her Rome main draw debut.

Halep has now gone 27-5 since the beginning of 2016 on clay, and appears to be rounding into form for a Roland Garros run. "I think it's because of the confidence,” she said, according to “I feel every shot I hit; I feel every ball. Doesn't matter where I am on court. I just feel good, and I have confidence that I can return the ball pretty well."

In other action on Thursday at the Foro Italico, No.3-seeded Garbiné Muguruza battled past Julia Goerges, 7-5, 6-4 to claim her second clay-court win of the season. The Spaniard is into the quarterfinals at Rome for the second consecutive year and will face No.9-seeded Venus Williams in the quarterfinals. Williams snapped a personal three-match losing streak against Johanna Konta with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 win over the British No.1.

Konta, seeded sixth, falls to 4-10 lifetime on the clay.

Elsewhere, qualifier Daria Gavrilova upset No.7-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, 2-6, 7-5, 6-4. Gavrilova, who had to play qualifying because she missed the tournament’s sign-up deadline, also reached the semifinals at Rome as a qualifier in 2015.

Gavrilova moves on to face No.15-seeded Kiki Bertens in the quarterfinals.


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