Swiatek on course for Madrid-Rome double; facing Keys in the quarters

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek remains on course for an uncommon Madrid-Rome double after beating Angelique Kerber to reach the Italian Open quarterfinals
Poland's Iga Swiatek celebrates after winning a match against Germany's Angelique Kerber at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Monday, May 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

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Poland's Iga Swiatek celebrates after winning a match against Germany's Angelique Kerber at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Monday, May 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

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, which Swiatek won. The Polish player is attempting to become the first woman to win the "dirt double" since Serena Williams in 2013.

“For sure, playing against Maddie is not easy,” Swiatek said. "The score was pretty one way in Madrid. It’s kind of easy for your mind to just drift off sometimes. The most important thing is to stay focused and really disciplined.”

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.

Two more Americans were through to the quarterfinals after third-seeded Coco Gauff rallied to beat Paula Badosa 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 and Danielle Collins eased past Irina-Camelia Begu 6-0, 6-3.

Jelena Ostapenko and Qinwen Zheng also advanced.

In the men’s tournament, defending champion Daniil Medvedev survived a scare before prevailing against Serbian qualifier Hamad Medjedovic 7-6 (5), 2-6, 7-5 in their third-round match.

Next Gen titleholder Medjedovic was given a standing ovation as he left the court after some courageous tennis but he will be regretting not making the most of a set point in the opening set.

The second-seeded Medvedev will face Tommy Paul in the round of 16 after the American beat Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-3.

Both of the Madrid finalists were eliminated.

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.

Also advancing were Hubert Hurkacz, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Sebastian Baez and Nicolas Jarry.

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis

Poland's Iga Swiatek, left, hugs Germany's Angelique Kerber after winning a match, at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Monday, May 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

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Maintenance personnell remove the glue used by an activist of "Ultima Generazione"(Last generation) who tried to glue herself on the stands of the Pietrangeli court of the Rome's Foro Italico sports center, Monday, May 13, 2024, where United States' Madison Keys was playing against Romania's Sorana Cirstea in the Italian Open tennis tournment. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

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An activist of "Ultima Generazione"(Last generation) is removed by security after she tried to glue herself on the stands of the Pietrangeli court of the Rome's Foro Italico sports center, Monday, May 13, 2024, where United States' Madison Keys was playing against Romania's Sorana Cirstea in the Italian Open tennis tournment. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

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Poland's Iga Swiatek reacts after winning a point during a match against Germany's Angelique Kerber at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Monday, May 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

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Germany's Angelique Kerber returns the ball Poland's Iga Swiatek at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Monday, May 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

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Poland's Iga Swiatek serves the ball to Germany's Angelique Kerber at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Monday, May 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

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United States' Coco Gauff celebrates after winning a match against Spain's Paula Badosa at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Monday, May 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

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