Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia was all about the third-round action, with eight matches that set up the quarterfinal field.
Coco Gauff ended a seven-match winning streak of freshly-crowned Mutua Madrid Open champion Aryna Sabalenka with a 7-5 6-3 victory that is her third over a Top 10 player, the previous two being over Naomi Osaka and Kiki Bertens.
Following an upset of Naomi Osaka, Jessica Pegula converted all the seven break points she earned to dispatch Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-4 and reach her first career quarterfinal on clay.
Top seed Ashleigh Barty defeated Veronika Kudermetova 6-3 6-3 to increase her tour-leading number of match wins this season to 27 and advance to the quarterfinals of Rome for the first time in her career.
The 2019 Rome champion and 2020 runner-up Karolina Pliskova moved past veteran Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-3.
The former world No.2 Zvonareva, who reached the semifinals in Rome twice, in 2004 and 2005, is projected to return to the Top 100 of the WTA singles rankings on Monday.
For the first time in her career Iga Swiatek won a WTA main-draw match after facing a match point, as she saved two to get past Barbora Krejcikova 3-6 7-6(5) 7-5 in two hours and 50 minutes.
Petra Martic is already seeing great results from her new coaching partnership with Francesca Schiavone. The Croat is through to her first WTA 1000 quarterfinal since 2019 with a 3-6 6-1 6-2 comeback win over world No.44 Nadia Podoroska.
Despite today’s loss, this tournament in Rome will forever be cherished as a dreamlike experience in the mind of the 2020 Roland Garros semifinalist Podoroska, because of her upset of Serena Williams in the previous round:
I am going to keep this week in a very special place for the rest of my career and my life. Not only for having won a tennis match against a legend of this sport, but also for having a good feeling on the court again. When I was a child, while playing against the wall, I imagined that Serena Williams was on the other side.
In a clash of two Grand Slam champions, Jelena Ostapenko rallied from a set down to defeat Angelique Kerber 4-6 6-3 6-4.
Fifth seed and winner of two Rome titles Elina Svitolina wrapped up third-round action at night with a comprehensive 6-4 6-2 win over seed No.12 Garbine Muguruza, as the Spaniard saved just one out of eight break points she faced.
Quarterfinal pairs: Ashleigh Barty  vs. Coco Gauff, Iga Swiatek  vs. Elina Svitolina , Karolina Pliskova  vs. Jelena Ostapenko, Petra Martic vs. Jessica Pegula.