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The Williams sisters motored on through the draw at the 2012 Internazionali BNL D'Italia, winning their third round matches rather comfortably and edging closer to an all-Williams final, something that would have seemed quite improbable last year given their well-documented injury problems. Fourth seed Petra Kvitova and second seed Maria Sharapova may have something to say about that though, as the two ladies also powered into the last eight. Rising star Angelique Kerber also got the better of Julia Goerges in an all-German clash to leave her a win away from entering the Top 10 for the first time in her career.
The elder Williams sibling recorded her second win over a Top 5 player since her comeback (she downed Kvitova in Miami) as she beat 5th seed Samantha Stosur 6-4, 6-3 in Rome today. Venus had lost to Stosur in the Charleston quarterfinals earlier this year and gained revenge, winning a rather bizarre match in which the two players traded as many as seven breaks of serve in the opening set. The American was down 3-1 in the second set too but won the last five games of the match to close out the win in an hour and 32 minutes.
Younger sister Serena meanwhile equaled the record of 16 straight wins on clay set by Dinara Safina back in 2009 and Sara Errani earlier this year when she beat Anabel Medina Garrigues with consummate ease, 6-3, 6-1.
Fourth seed Petra Kvitova also booked her place in the quarterfinals as she recorded a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 win over Romanian Sorana Cirstea in a match that swung like a rusty gate. Kvitova dominated the first and third sets but was rolled over by the Romanian in the second set, finding herself down 1-5 before mounting a comeback. That, however, did not prevent Cirstea from pushing the match into a third set, but Kvitova closed it out comfortably in the end. She will now face one of the most improved players on tour this year, Angelique Kerber who got the better of Julia Goerges, winning nine out of the last ten games of the match to record a 6-4, 6-1 win.
Maria Sharapova won the battle of the former World No.1s , beating Ana Ivanovic in a hard-fought encounter with a 7-6(4), 6-3 scoreline. Ivanovic, on the comeback trail much like the Williams sisters, started off strongly and got an early break. Sharapova though broke back and both players exchanged a further break before the Russian took the set in the ensuing tiebreak. The second set saw six breaks of serve, with Sharapova edging it 4 breaks to 2 as she won the match to advance to a quarterfinal showdown with Venus Williams, having been soundly thrashed by Serena in Madrid last week.
In the other third round matches played on the day, 8th seeded Chinese star Li Na beat South African Chanelle Scheepers 7-6(3), 6-2 while local girl Flavia Pennetta continued to give the crowds hope as she thumped Radwanska-conqueror Petra Cetkovska 6-0, 6-1 in her third round match.
With the quarterfinals being played on Friday, the action is sure to heat up at the Internazionali BNL D'Italia. Defending champion Sharapova has lost seven consecutive times to Serena Williams but will hope the losing streak doesn't carry on as she faces older sister Venus. Serena will aim to end local hopes when she plays Flavia Pennetta while the other two quarterfinals see Li Na take on Dominika Cibulkova (who received a walkover today) while Angelique Kerber plays Petra Kvitova.
Third Round Scores:
(2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (13) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 76(4) 63
(4) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Sorana Cirstea (ROU) 62 57 62
(WC) Venus Williams (USA) d. (5) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 64 63
(8) Li Na (CHN) d. Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) 76(3) 62
(9) Serena Williams (USA) d. Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 63 61
(12) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. Julia Goerges (GER) 64 61
Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. Petra Cetkovska (CZE) 60 61
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