Gavrilova stuns in-form Halep in Rome

Australia’s Daria Gavrilova has chalked up one of the best wins of her career with a three set victory over in-form Romanian world No.5 Simona Halep to reach the third round of the Rome International.

Halep, who won the Madrid Open last week, was widely tipped to repeat the feat in Rome, went down 6-3 4-6 6-3 in a rain-affected match on Wednesday.

Gavrilova reached the semi-finals at this event last year and this was only her second win over a top-five player after success over former world No.2 Marisa Sharapova in Miami last year.

The Russian-born right-hander hit 31 winners in her impressive display as Halep, who made 33 unforced errors, struggled to cope with her opponents’ energetic style.

This victory for Gavrilova comes on the back of last week’s wins over world No.6 Petra Kvitova and 19th-ranked Ukranian Elina Svitolina in Madrid.

It wasn’t such a good day for Sam Stosur who was sent packing 6-4 6-4 by world No.9 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who’ll now face Gavrilova for a place in the quarter-finals.

Elsewhere, Eugenie Bouchard continued a day of shocks by beating second seed Angelique Kerber.

The Canadian ran out a 6-1 5-7 7-5 winner against the Australian Open champion to claim her first victory against a top-10 player since 2014.

“I did feel like I was playing better tennis today, especially at the beginning,” Bouchard told the WTA website.

“That’s how I want to play. That gives me confidence knowing I can play that way against one of the best players in the world.”

Fourth seed Victoria Azarenka was also a second-round casualty as she tumbled out to Irina-Camelia Begu.

Injury has restricted Azarenka’s clay-court campaign to just a handful of matches this year and Romanian Begu took advantage to seal a 6-3 6-2 victory.

Venus Williams also suffered a 6-7 7-5 6-4 defeat to Timea Babos and Madison Keys beat fifth seed Petra Kvitova 6-3 6-4.

Also, Johanna Konta beat Italian seventh seed Roberta Vinci 6-0 6-4 but fellow Brit Heather Watson went out to Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

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