World number one Ashleigh Barty was too good for Veronika Kudermetova as she dominated her opponent 6-3 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of WTA Rome.
Kudermetova put up a good fight in the opening exchanges and even broke Barty’s serve at the first time of asking, but the Russian faded quickly after battling hard in the first set.
Barty recovered well from the early set-back and went on to break Kudermetova’s serve four times over the course of the match, producing nine aces along the way.
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Kudermetova struggled to match Barty’s pace in the second set and lasted just 33 minutes against the Australian.
Barty will take on Coco Gauff in the quarter-finals after the American’s superb display against world number four Aryna Sabalenka. It is the first time the duo have faced each other.
Gauff has been in fine form in the tournament, upsetting the odds to knock out Madrid champion Sabalenka 7-5 6-3 in Thursday’s earlier match.
The 17-year-old spoke of her eagerness to face Barty, who is the favourite to win the tournament after several top seeds were knocked out. World number two Naomi Osaka fell at the first hurdle while Simona Halep was forced to withdraw with an injury.
“It will be great to see where my level is," said Gauff of playing Barty.
I mean, she's the number one player in the world. I have no pressure on me.
"I'm just going to go out there and see what I can do and try my best.”
Barty will see a win in Rome as the perfect preparation for the French Open which kicks off at the end of the month as she bids to add to her 2019 title in Paris. The tournament is set for a delayed start on March 30 so as more fans can be permitted to watch the event.
In the other confirmed quarter-finals in Rome, Jessica Pegula takes on Petra Martic.

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