- Internazionali BNL d'Italia
Super Serena slays Cibulkova in Rome
Serena Williams looks to be in grand slam-winning mood just a week out from the French Open, after she obliterated Dominika Cibulkova to reach the Internazionali BNL d'Italia quarter-finals on Thursday.
Williams endured a nightmare campaign at the 2012 iteration of Roland Garros, suffering her first ever loss in the opening round of a grand slam event. Back then she carried a back injury that had forced her out of the Rome semi-finals, and she appears determined to erase those painful memories.
Cibulkova, the world No. 16 and 14th seed at the tournament, was simply blown away by the hitting power of the American, who triumphed 6-0 6-1 in an hour and six minutes.
The first set was an exhibition of on-court dominance from Williams, who smashed down seven aces and won 12 of 14 points on the Cibulkova delivery. Three breaks promptly wrapped up the set, with Cibulkova already contemplating the potential for a double-bagel.
That scenario became even more likely when Williams took a 2-0 lead in the second, but Cibulkova did finally manage to halt the slide when she held serve for the first time. Nevertheless, Williams marched on, setting up a quarter-final meeting with Carla Suarez Navarro, who beat Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-2 6-3.
Maria Sharapova, the world No. 2 and reigning French Open champion, remains a giant factor in Rome after she made light work of Sloane Stephens, winning 6-2 6-1. Sharapova advanced to the last-eight stage in an hour and 20 minutes, and will face seventh seed Sara Errani who benefited at the expense of her opponent as Maria Kirilenko withdrew when trailing 6-3 2-0.
World No. 3 Victoria Azarenka was another to breeze through her third-round contest, leading Ayumi Morita 6-1 2-0 when Morita retired. Azarenka will now face Sam Stosur, who outlasted Petra Kvitova 7-5 2-6 6-1 to reach the last-eight.
Fifth seed and 2011 French Open champion Li Na is out after she was surprisingly toppled by former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic. In a match featuring 29 break chances, seven of which were taken, Jankovic eventually claimed a 7-6(2) 7-5 triumph after two hours and 39 minutes on court.
No. 13 seed Roberta Vinci was another to fall, losing 6-4 6-2 to Simona Halep. Vinci is ranked 49 places higher than Halep in the rankings, but the qualifier dominated for what turned out to be an easy victory.