ROME, Italy — No.47 Petra Martic continued her resurgence at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Wednesday, deploying her controlled court craft to knock out No.5 Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 6-3 in the second round.
A semifinalist in Rome last year, Martic successfully navigated qualifying to earn her spot in the main draw this year. With wins over Karolina Muchova and Kontaveit, the 31-year-old Croat now finds herself back in Rome’s Round of 16.
Martic and Kontaveit split their two prior meetings, which both came in 2020. But Martic’s comfort on the clay at the Foro Italico shone through as she earned her first Top 10 win since 2019. The win snapped her skid of seven straight losses to Top 10 opposition.
Martic overcame an early break at 0-2 to reel off the next six games to pocket the opening set. With a flurry of drop shots and commanding slices that kept Kontaveit on her heels, Martic closed out the win by running off the last three games of the match.
Martic will face either Bianca Andreescu or Nuria Parrizas Diaz.
No.8 Aryna Sabalenka needed just 49 minutes in her opener to power past Zhang Shuai 6-2, 6-0 and advance to the Round of 16. Sabalenka fired 22 winners to 13 unforced errors and never faced a break point on her serve to dominate the World No.42, winning 53 of the 82 points played.
“I think I was focused from the beginning to the end. After my tough loss in the first loss in Madrid, I didn’t want to do bad here. That’s why I was really focused from the beginning. I felt everything was going well for me.”
Sabalenka will face either Madrid finalist Jessica Pegula or Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina for a spot in her first Rome quarterfinal.
“Honestly, I’m feel my season just started with the clay-court season because in the beginning of the season I was struggling with a lot of things,” Sabalenka said. “I couldn’t serve, I couldn’t play, I didn’t feel well on court. I started working extra hard. From the clay-court tournaments, I started to play better. I’m feeling better and I found my fighting spirit again.”
More to follow…