Aussie pair progress in Rome

In-form Australian duo Sam Stosur and Daria Gavrilova have continued their strong clay court form by booking their spots in the second round of the Rome International.

Stosur, who reached the semi-finals of the Madrid Open last week, saved a second set match point against Alison Riske to prevail 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 against the American world No.88.

The world No.22 will now face Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova for a place in the third round.

Gavrilova, a semi-finalist in this event last year, saw off former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki 6-1 7-6 (7-3) to set up a second round meeting with Simona Halep.

The 22-year-old cruised through the opening set but then showed her mettle by turning around a 4-1 deficit in the second following some on-court coaching from Nicole Pratt to close out the match in 82 minutes.

“I’m happy that I could manage my nerves in the tie-break and play a pretty clean tie-break,” Gavrilova said.

“I love it [being back in Rome]. I was very surprised we played on the Grandstand; when I saw the schedule, I was like, ‘Woah, this is so cool.’ And you know the fans here are like really into it, so it means a lot to the players.”

Gavrilova, who reached the last eight in Madrid last week, faces a very tough test against world No.5 Simona Halep, who beat Dominika Cibulkova to win the final in the Spanish capital.

“I know that’s going to be a tough match, but I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.

Eugenie Bouchard piled more misery on Jelena Jankovic by winning the first-round matchup of former top-10 players 6-4 2-6 6-3.

Jankovic won this tournament in 2007 and 2008, but has gone three months without reaching a quarter-final.

Bouchard, the 2014 Wimbledon runner-up, slipped in the rankings last year but has rebounded with two finals this season.

“I knew it would be a tough battle,” Bouchard said.

“I realised that she started controlling too many points, so in the third set I decided no matter what, even if I make a couple more mistakes, I need to step in and go for it. That made the difference.”

Bouchard next faces Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber.

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