Naomi Osaka's promising Italian Open run was halted by Zheng Qinwen on Monday, as the seventh seed denied the four-time grand slam champion a quarter-final place.

Following Saturday's triumph over Daria Kasatkina – her second successive straight-sets win over a top-20 opponent in Rome – Osaka laughed off the "Clayomi" moniker given to her by some fans.

On Monday, her old troubles on the surface came back to the fore as Zheng dominated from the off to make the tournament's last eight for a second straight year, winning 6-2 6-4.

Osaka saw her serve broken in the very first game only to hit straight back, but Zheng assumed control by taking seven straight games to go from 2-1 down in the opener to 2-0 up in the second set.

The 21-year-old produced a clinical performance and converted all four of her break points, winning 78 per cent of first-serve points to Osaka's 68 per cent as she teed up a quarter-final clash with either Coco Gauff or Paula Badosa.

Data Debrief: 'Clayomi' no more as Zheng triumphs

Osaka impressed on a surface long regarded as her worst in Italy, but it was a bridge too far for her on Monday, Zheng reaching her fourth WTA 1000 quarter-final.

Since the format's introduction in 2009, she is just the second Asian player to reach multiple quarter-finals on both hardcourts and clay at that level before the age of 23, the other being Osaka.

Aryna Sabalenka dominated Dayana Yastremska to reach the fourth round of the Italian Open on Sunday.

Sabalenka, who claimed Australian Open glory for the second time earlier this year without dropping a set, eased to a 6-4 6-2 victory over Yastremska.

Yastremska headed into the third-round contest having beaten Sabalenka in all three of their previous meetings, but the world number two found a crucial break of serve in the seventh game of the opening set before going on to hold twice more to take the ascendancy.

Yastremska's resolve was broken further in an epic third game of the second set, surviving six break points before Sabalenka finally got over the line to tighten her grip on the match.

Sabalenka didn't look back from there, breaking Yastremska again before going on to seal her place in the fourth round.

Sabalenka will take on either Sara Errani or Anna Kalinskaya in the fourth round as she looks to win the Italian Open for the first time ahead of the French Open later this month, where she will bid to improve on her semi-final appearance last year.

Data debrief

Since 2018, when Sabalenka achieved her first WTA 1000 win, she is now the player with the joint-most wins in such events (90, equalling Iga Swiatek).

Sabalenka may have lost her three previous games against Yastremska, but the last meeting between the pair was in 2020, and the two-time grand slam champion showed how much her game has progressed since then as she won all nine of her service games while breaking her Ukrainian opponent three times on her way to victory.

Daniil Medvedev and Noami Osaka both advanced at the Italian Open with straight-sets wins on Saturday, the former eliminating Britain's Jack Draper with a 7-5 6-4 success.

Second seed Medvedev – who won the Rome event last year – was tested by Draper, the world number four saving seven of 10 break points faced in a one-hour, 47-minute contest.

Draper was in the ascendency when he broke Medvedev's serve to make it 5-5 in the first set, but Medvedev hit straight back before serving out the opener.

The Russian stepped things up from there and raced into a 5-1 lead in the second set, one Draper was unable to overturn as Medvedev teed up a last-32 clash with Hamad Medjedovic for Sunday.

In the women's draw, four-time grand slam champion Osaka overcame 10th seed Daria Kasatkina in another impressive straight-sets triumph, two days after recording her first clay-court win over a top-20 opponent in Marta Kostyuk.

She eased to a 6-3 6-3 victory in Saturday's last-32 encounter and will now face China's Qinwen Zheng for a place in the quarter-finals on Monday.

Data Debrief: Osaka's new love for clay

Coming into this year's Italian Open, Osaka was 0-8 throughout her career against top-20 opponents on clay, but she has now recorded two such wins in a row for the very first time.

Iga Swiatek progressed to the fourth round of the Italian Open by overcoming Yulia Putintseva on Saturday, fighting back from 4-1 down in the second set for a 6-3 6-4 win.

The world number one needed one hour and 47 minutes to see off Putintseva, who gave Swiatek her toughest test yet in Rome, finding success with a series of drop shots to build a healthy lead in the second set.

However, Swiatek fended off four break points to avoid going 5-1 down then produced back-to-back breaks as the momentum shifted, with Putintseva having no answer for her power from there.

Swiatek – who is looking to build on last week's triumph at the Madrid Open – will now face either Angelique Kerber or Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the last 16 on Monday.

Data Debrief: No stopping Swiatek

While Swiatek was tested on Saturday, it was an examination she passed with flying colours as she made it 25 straight clay-court wins against opponents ranked outside the world's top 10.

She is the first player on the WTA Tour to achieve that feat since Serena Williams did so in 2016.

Defending champion Elena Rybakina has been forced to withdraw from the Italian Open due to illness.

Rybakina has enjoyed a fine start to 2024, boasting a 30-5 record and capturing three WTA titles to match Iga Swiatek for the most of any player on the tour.

The 2022 Wimbledon champion won her second WTA 1000 title in Rome last year, defeating Swiatek and Jelena Ostapenko en route to the final, which she won by virtue of a walkover after taking the opening set, due to an injury to Anhelina Kalinina.

The Kazakhstani was set to open her title defence against Irina-Camelia Begu on Friday, but lucky loser Oceane Dodin took her place after she felt too unwell to play.

The world number four said: "Unfortunately I do not feel well enough to compete. I have such good memories from last year and was looking forward to defending my title.

"Rome is so special to me, and I look forward to being back next year to reclaim my title and play in front of the Italian fans."

Naomi Osaka recorded her first win over a top-20 opponent on clay at the Italian Open on Thursday, posting an impressive 6-3 6-2 victory against Marta Kostyuk to reach the third round.

Having opened her first Italian Open campaign since 2021 with a straight-sets win over Clara Burel on Wednesday, Osaka produced another slick performance to down the world number 20 one day later.

Osaka blitzed Kostyuk to take the opener in just 36 minutes, taking advantage of a sloppy start from the Ukrainian, who served at just 40 per cent in the first set and tallied 15 unforced errors. 

The former world number one then forced a break within three games in the second set, only for rain to halt proceedings after she went 3-1 up. 

She showed no signs of rustiness upon returning to the court, though, even responding to a late loss of serve with an immediate break back to tee up a third-round clash with 10th seed Daria Kasatkina.

Data Debrief: First for Osaka on least favourite surface

Osaka has never considered herself a clay-court specialist, failing to reach a single tour-level final on the surface throughout her career.

Ahead of Thursday's match, she was 0-8 on clay against opponents in the top 20 of the WTA rankings. However, a routine victory should give her hope of repeating the feat against Kasatkina next time out.

Naomi Osaka claimed a straight sets victory over Clara Burel in the first round of the Italian Open.

Making her first appearance in Rome since 2021, former world number one Osaka prevailed 7-6 (7-2) 6-1 on Wednesday, marking her first win over a top-50 opponent on clay since she defeated Victoria Azarenka at Roland Garros in 2019.

Osaka, who is now ranked 173rd in the world by the WTA, will face Marta Kostyuk in the second round. 

She previously faced Kostyuk in the 2020 US Open, en route to winning her third major title.

Data Debrief: Back with a bang

Osaka reached the quarter-finals of the Italian Open in 2019, but did not win a game in 2021 and has not appeared at any other edition since then.

That means the 26-year-old won her first match at the event since she beat Mihaela Buzarnescu in 2019 (1,819 days ago). She wrapped up the win in one hour and 24 minutes, finishing with 27 winners, including eight aces.

Iga Swiatek will not rest on her laurels after overcoming Aryna Sabalenka in last week's Madrid Open final, pledging to learn from that gruelling battle ahead of the Italian Open.

Swiatek toppled Sabalenka in an enthralling battle between the world's top two players on Saturday, saving three championship points en route to a 7-5 4-6 7-6 (9-7) win in over three hours on court.

The world number one has now won every European clay court tournament at WTA 500 level or higher, including back-to-back triumphs in Rome in 2021 and 2022.

As she prepares to open her Italian Open campaign against either Caroline Dolehide or a qualifier on Friday, Swiatek is determined to ensure she does not let her level drop.

Speaking during an appearance on the WTA Insider Podcast, Swiatek said: "I feel like after such a match, I deserve a two-month vacation, but I can't have that so I'll trade it for six tiramisus or something!

"I can let it go and rest and just forget about it, or I can really take a big lesson from it, so it depends on what is going to happen in the next few weeks in terms of how I analyse it."

Swiatek's latest win – her seventh in 10 meetings with Sabalenka – saw her put further distance between herself and the world number two in the WTA rankings.

However, the four-time grand slam champion knows she cannot afford to let up, given the fierce competition on the WTA tour.

"I'm not thinking about Aryna when I'm practising, but it's more that I know that the competition is big and if I stop for a while I might be pushed out," Swiatek said.

"But I had this kind of thing in Rome 2022, with the final against Ons [Jabeur]. Physically, I was so tired. The rallies were long, Ons was playing a pretty tricky game. 

"So after that game for the next few years, when I was doing the worst practices on court and I was dying, I was thinking about that game."

Aryna Sabalenka is encouraged by her run to the Madrid Open final and feels her performance levels "can only get better", despite defeat by Iga Swiatek.

In a repeat of last year's showpiece, the world number two went down 7-5 4-6 7-6 (9-7) in a thrilling encounter with the Pole, who avenged her loss from 12 months ago. 

Sabalenka, who saw three championship points go begging, narrowly missed out on becoming only the second woman to win three titles in Madrid after Petra Kvitova. 

Nevertheless, the reigning Australian Open champion reached her first final since triumphing in Melbourne, while extending her winning streak in the Spanish capital to 11 matches before defeat to the world number one.

"I really want to see many more finals against [Swiatek]. I want to see more wins than losses," she said. "But I really hope that we'll be able to keep the level or increase the level every year.

"I'm happy with the level I played, with the effort I put into this match and into this week. I'm leaving Madrid with positive thoughts.

"Probably when I broke [Swiatek] in the third set, I should have been more focused on my serve. But at the same time, it's not like I double-faulted; she played great tennis, and she broke me back.

"I think after the Australian Open, I struggled for a couple of months. It's been intense. I'm super happy that, here in Madrid, I was able to bring it all together and be able to get back to my level. It can only get better from now on."

Swiatek was not to be denied a third title of the season - a tally only matched by Elena Rybakina - and she has now won each of her last seven WTA Tour-level finals since losing out to Sabalenka in Madrid last year.

The three-time French Open champion has also now triumphed in every European clay court tournament at WTA 500 level or higher.

"When I look back in maybe a few years, it will mean a lot," the Pole said. "But for now, I'm just happy that I won this tournament anyway. It doesn't matter to me if I won it before or not. I try to win each tournament that I play.

"I think it was more about who was going to be less stressed and who was going to be able to play with more freedom.

"For most of the match, I felt like some decisions [from her] were pretty courageous. I was sometimes a little bit back. So, in the end, I just wanted not to do that and to also be courageous.

"I don't know what made a difference. I think we both deserved to win; I think it was only about those little points in the tiebreaker."

Aryna Sabalenka will face Iga Swiatek in the Madrid Open final for the second year running after beating Elena Rybakina 1-6 7-5 7-6 (7-5) in a semi-final classic on Thursday.

Fourth seed Rybakina made a flying start and took the opener within just 25 minutes, but Sabalenka hit back in a topsy-turvy second set featuring five breaks of serve to force a decider. 

Both players were imperious on their own serve from there, with a tie-break required to split them. Sabalenka's power looked likely to overwhelm Rybakina as she raced into a 5-1 lead, but the former Wimbledon champion clung on by saving two match points on her own serve.

Sabalenka would not be denied third time around, though, a huge serve giving Rybakina no chance as the defending champion teed up a rematch with Swiatek, who she beat in the Spanish capital in last year's showpiece match.

Data Debrief: Sabalenka's unwanted record

Sabalenka has dropped 60 games at this year's Madrid Open. That makes her the player with the most games dropped en route to reaching the final since the tournament's inception in 2009.

The world number two had to dig deep in a match which saw Rybakina win more total points (99 to 95), but she will not mind one bit if she goes on to capture a third Madrid Open title on Saturday.

Iga Swiatek cruised into her second Madrid Open final on Thursday, maintaining her ominous form by beating Madison Keys 6-1 6-3 within 71 minutes.

Swiatek had been forced to fight back from a set down against Beatriz Haddad Maia in the quarter-finals, but there was no slow start on Thursday as she broke Keys' serve to love at the first attempt.

Only in the fifth game, when Keys failed to convert two break points, was Swiatek troubled in a 31-minute opener, and she carried that momentum into the second set with another early break. 

Having eliminated Coco Gauff and Ons Jabeur on a deeply impressive run, Keys had no answer for Swiatek's power as she clinically worked her way through the second set, the American's forehand running long on match point to seal a routine win for the world number one. 

Having lost last year's final against Aryna Sabalenka, Swiatek could face a rematch against the defending champion, who takes on Elena Rybakina in Thursday's other semi-final.

Data Debrief: Swiatek surpasses Serena 

Saturday's final will be Swiatek's 11th at WTA 1000-level, the Pole going all the way on 37.9 per cent of her 29 main-draw entries at that level. That is a better ratio than 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams managed in her glittering career, the American doing so at 18 of 49 WTA 1000 tournaments (36.7 per cent). 

Swiatek has now played eight matches in 2024 without dropping a single game on her own serve, a tally only matched by her possible final opponent Sabalenka on the WTA tour. 

Elena Rybakina saved two match points as she outlasted Yulia Putintseva to win a dramatic encounter 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 in the Madrid Open quarter-finals on Wednesday.

The world number four was on the brink of defeat at 5-2 down in the third set, with her fellow Kazakhstani Putintseva eyeing a third win in as many head-to-head meetings between the pair.

However, Rybakina came up with one of the shots of the tournament on Putintseva's first match point, capitalising on a drop shot clipping the net cord to produce a nonchalant winner.

The 2022 Wimbledon champion didn't look back from that moment on, producing back-to-back breaks before holding her nerve through a tense final service game, converting her fourth match point to wrap up a gruelling two-hour, 48-minute contest.

Rybakina has now won 16 successive matches on clay, and she will face either Aryna Sabalenka or Mirra Andreeva in the semi-finals on Thursday.

Data Debrief: Rybakina rampant 

Rybakina is the form player on the WTA circuit, with Wednesday's win her 30th of 2024, more than any other player.

She is just the second player to win 30 or more matches in tournaments starting within the first four months of a calendar year, after Iga Swiatek managed 32 victories during the same span in 2022. Swiatek, of course, went on to win the French Open and US Open titles that season.  

Iga Swiatek admits that, like Pedro Cachin, she would also swap shirts with Rafael Nadal following his Madrid Open exit.

The 22-time grand slam champion's farewell appearance at the clay-court ATP Masters tournament, which he has won five times, was ended by a straight-sets defeat to Jiri Lehecka.

Nadal had beaten Cachin in the last 32, with the Argentine subsequently asking his idol for his shirt as a memento following their clash.

Although Swiatek has never been tempted to follow suit with an opponent, the world number one acknowledged she might make an exception for the Spaniard.

"If I would play against Rafa, for sure I would ask for a T-shirt," she laughed.

"For sure, he was a huge inspiration. When I was younger, he was basically the only player I looked up to, but not because of his game on clay - more because of the way he is off the court and how he never gives up, and also his mentality."

Swiatek is through to the semi-finals in the ladies' draw after recovering from losing the opening set to defeat Beatriz Haddad Maia 4-6 6-0 6-2.

The Pole, who will play former US Open runner-up Madison Keys in the last four, equalled Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova as the fastest player to reach 25 WTA 1000 wins on clay, doing so in just 29 matches.

Iga Swiatek has booked her place in the Madrid Open semi-finals after battling back from a set down to defeat Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The top seed, who made it to the final last year, dropped a set for the first time in this tournament before recovering to win 4-6 6-0 6-2 in a match that lasted just short of two-and-a-half hours.

These two players met in the French Open semi-finals last year and 11th seed Haddad Maia was eyeing an upset when she fought back from 4-1 down to claim the opener.

But Swiatek dropped serve just once in the next two sets as she assumed full control and swept to victory, powered by winning eight straight games from the start of the second set.

Data Debrief: Swiatek statistics up there with the best

Up next for Swiatek will be a last-four clash against either Ons Jabeur or Madison Keys, who play later on Tuesday. That will be her 15th WTA 1000 semi-final appearance since 2020, with no other player having made it to double figures (Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari are the next best on eight each).

Beating Haddad Maia also means Swiatek has equalled Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova as the fastest player to reach 25 WTA 1000 wins on clay, doing so in just 29 matches.

And Swiatek's emphatic second set saw her tie Coco Gauff for the most number of 6-0 sets won so far this year. They both have seven, just ahead of Sabalenka (five).

Defending champion Sabalenka plays Mirra Andreeva in the last eight on Wednesday after battling past Danielle Collins in three sets. All three of her wins so far have been in deciding sets.

The other last-eight clash is between Elena Rybakina and Yulia Putintseva.

Madison Keys is through to the quarter-final of the Madrid Open for the first time in her career after rallying to a 7-6 (7-4), 4-6, 6-4 win over Coco Gauff on Monday.

The 29-year-old trailed 5-2 in the first set and 4-2 in the third set but rallied in both to come from behind to beat the number three seed.

Despite winning the second set, Gauff struggled to find her rhythm, suffering from 13 double faults, including two in the final game.

Keys will face former Madrid Open champion Ons Jabeur for a spot in the semi-final after the number eight seed overcame Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets.

Data debrief: Keys reaches new milestone

Having lost in the first round in seven of her nine previous trips to the Spanish capital, Keys has now bettered her previous best finish in Madrid - a third-round showing in 2016.

Keys hadn't won three matches in a row since reaching the US Open semifinals last year.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.