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Swiatek reaches Italian Open quarters in bid for rare 'dirt double'


ROME (AP) — Top-ranked Iga Swiatek remained on course for an uncommon Madrid-Rome double after beating Angelique Kerber to reach the Italian Open quarterfinals on Monday.

It was a ninth straight win for Swiatek, and the two-time Rome champion will next face Madison Keys after the American player eased past Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-1 in a match that was interrupted by an environmental protest.

Swiatek needed eight set points to secure the opener but had no such problems at the end of the second, sealing a 7-5, 6-3 victory on the first match point when Kerber's return went wide.

The match against Keys will be a repeat of last week's Madrid Open semifinal. Swiatek is attempting to become the first woman to win the "dirt double" since Serena Williams in 2013.

Keys' match in Rome was temporarily suspended at 3-1 in the second set after two protesters jumped onto the court and threw confetti, while others from the environmentalist group glued themselves to the stands.

"As soon as I saw them come over the barrier, my first thought was like, 'Should I go tackle one of them?' But I stopped myself," Keys said. "And then the chair (umpire) started yelling at me to go sit down.

"Unfortunately, it's starting to become a little bit of a common thing that's happening."

The players returned to the locker room and the protestors did not resist when security intervened before police and firefighters also arrived to handle the situation.

Another American is also through to the quarterfinals after third-seeded Coco Gauff rallied to beat Paula Badosa 5-7, 6-4, 6-1.

Both of the Madrid finalists are out of the men's tournament after losing their third-round matches.

Last week's winner Andrey Rublev, who was seeded fourth in Rome, was upset by French qualifier Alexandre Muller 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 for his first win over a top-10 player.

Madrid runner-up Felix Auger-Aliassime was beaten by ninth-seeded Alex De Minaur 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4.

Defending champion and second seed Daniil Medvedev was playing Serbian qualifier Hamad Medjedovic later.


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