It was a chaotic Thursday, especially the first half. In the opening four third-round matches of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, we said goodbye to four seeded players, three of which were upsets. Later on more seeds were shown the exit door, but those goodbyes were less surprising.
The biggest blow to the tournament was Thursday’s withdrawal of world No.1 and two-time defending champion Serena Williams. The reason is a right elbow injury which the American picked up in Madrid last week. Not even her special love of the tournament, its staff and her glorious record in Rome could make her decide to play through the injury, especially now ahead of the French Open.
Something good always comes out of bad things: qualifier Christina McHale has now benefited, easily making the quarterfinals of this prestigious event, and she’ll play fellow rising star and qualifier Daria Gavrilova. The quarterfinals of Rome are worth even more than a title at some International-level tournament.
Serena’s big sis V, seed No.14, was brushed aside by second-seeded Simona Halep, 6-2 6-1. Maybe Venus Williams straightforwardly lost this encounter, but she can be happy with her impressive victory over Elina Svitolina in the previous round, plus, she once again showed how good a designer she is, pleasing the fashion-sensitive Italians with her lovely combo of solid purple and floral prints from the EleVen Fleur De Monde collection.
Eugenie Bouchard‘s hope-filled times lasted for just one round. After beating Zarina Diyas in round two to end the six-match losing streak, the sixth-seeded Canadian battled as if her life depended on it, but eventually lost to seed No.10 Carla Suarez Navarro in a couple of minutes over three hours, despite serving for victory as much as three times and saving four match points in the final tiebreak. Let the score do the talking: 6-7(2) 7-5 7-6(7).
Seed No.8 Ekaterina Makarova joined the upset seeds, losing to qualifier Alexandra Dulgheru 6-4 6-3 and now we’ll have an all-Romanian quarterfinal as Dulgheru will face Halep.
Big names still standing strong are third seed Maria Sharapova who cruised past Bojana Jovanovski 6-3 6-3 and fourth seed Petra Kvitova who eliminated former world No.1 Jelena Jankovic. (photo: Jimmie48)