Garbine Muguruza claimed a hugely encouraging win ahead of her French Open title defence, beating Venus Williams in three sets to reach the semi-finals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Friday.
The champion at Roland Garros 12 months ago has struggled for form in 2017 and was thrashed 6-1 6-3 by Timea Bacsinszky in her first match at last week's Madrid Open.
However, Muguruza has looked a different player in Rome and produced a largely high-quality display to beat veteran Williams 6-2 3-6 6-2.
The Spaniard will face Elina Svitolina in the last four after the Ukrainian recorded a first career victory over second seed Karolina Pliskova.
Svitolina, who has beaten world number one Angelique Kerber three times this season, triumphed 6-2 7-6 (11-9) to end a run of four straight defeats against the Czech.
The other semi-final in Rome will see sixth seed Simona Halep face Kiki Bertens following their respective wins over Anett Kontaveit and Daria Gavrilova.
SECOND-SET LAPSE NOT COSTLY FOR MUGURUZA
Muguruza displayed fine form in the first and third sets against Williams, but lost her radar in the middle of the match - making 20 unforced errors during set two.
When Williams broke for a 1-0 lead in the decider, things looked bleak for Muguruza.
However, the 23-year-old hit back - aided by a host of errors from her opponent - to ultimately triumph with a degree of comfort.
IN-FORM HALEP EASES THROUGH
Halep made serene progress to the last four, continuing the Romanian's fine form.
Having claimed the Madrid Open title, which came hot on the heels of a semi-final spot in Stuttgart, Halep secured a dominant 6-2 6-4 triumph over Kontaveit.
The Estonian had stunned world number one Angelique Kerber in the second round, but found the fourth-ranked Halep a more difficult opponent.
Despite dropping serve once in each set, Halep always looked comfortable and is limbering up nicely for the French Open, where she reached the final in 2014.
She will now face Kiki Bertens, who beat Daria Gavrilova 6-3 6-3 to reach her first semi-final this year.
PLISKOVA UPBEAT DESPITE DEFEAT
Although Pliskova suffered defeat on Friday, she took heart from the fact her three victories in Rome this week more than doubled her number of clay-court wins in 2017.
"I would say I’ve had three good matches here, which is better than all the other tournaments where I was playing on clay," she said.
"It's definitely an improvement, and there's still Paris in front of me."
|Farrell and Porter among five Ireland changes|
|Pardew confirms Evans remains West Brom captain|
|Muntari joins Seedorf at Deportivo La Coruna|
|F1 champs Mercedes launch new W09|
|Wigan coach Wane ponders Hardaker lifeline|
|Hamilton hopes for pre-season contract resolution|
|Winter Olympics 2018: Joy for Gisin, Hirscher´s woe and record-breaking win for Wu|
|Rooney: Moving to China for the money would have been easy|
|Carrasco left out of Atletico squad amid China move reports|
|Arthur: Move to Barcelona still on track|
|Blatter backs Morocco 2026 World Cup bid|
|Moeen backs Rashid, Hales white-ball decisions|
|Wenger sees Welbeck emerging from torrid struggles|
|Zidane stands by selfless Benzema|
|Sodhi earns New Zealand ODI recall|
|´Important names´ keen on Inter star Icardi|
|Hughes returns in only England change|
|Manchester United v Chelsea: Mourinho and Conte´s feud in their own words|
|Manchester United v Chelsea: Grant´s disastrous debut, Drogba´s ´offside´ goal and other Old Traffor|
|Walker motivated by EFL Cup final showdown with Arsenal|
|Manchester United v Chelsea: ´Specialist in failure´, eye-pokes and Mourinho´s other best rows|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: America close in on quarters with huge win|
|Keane defends Pogba as former United captain demands more from Lukaku and Sanchez|
|Stoger labels Reus ´indispensable´ amid Milan links|
|Ferdinand and Man United team-mates doubted De Gea|
|Sock, Isner and Raonic crash out at Delray Beach|
|Rain sees Cilic-Monfils suspended at crucial stage|
|Djokovic steps up rehab as Federer leads the way|
|Cuban fined $600K for tanking comments|
|Fowler says PGA National demands full attention|
|Rory McIlroy curbing expectations before Masters|
|Shakhtar would´ve won by more if not for Roma´s Alisson – Fonseca|
|Popovich would be ´surprised´ if Leonard returns for Spurs this season|
|Championship Review: Wolves squander two-goal lead to Norwich, Cardiff City take advantage|
|Mourinho happy with ´big effort´ from Pogba|
|Benneteau ousts Bautista Agut in Marseille|
|Mourinho questions medical staff after ´bad´ Herrera injury|
|Sarri demands better from Napoli ´buffoons´|
|Mourinho hugs reporter for asking about McTominay instead of Pogba|
|Di Francesco slams Roma: I should have substituted half of them!|
|Curtains for Konta and Ostapenko in Dubai|
|De Gea happy with ´important´ wonder save|
|Woods eager to experience Masters ´rush´|
|Vazquez and Asensio important to Madrid, says Zidane|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 2 Roma 1: Fred stunner seals first-leg comeback|
|Sevilla 0 Manchester United 0: De Gea ensures Mourinho´s men stay level|
|Klaasen and Duminy half-centuries set up T20 decider|
|Herrera injury gives dropped Pogba chance for reprieve|
|Tindall urges England to ´hunt´ vulnerable Scotland|
|Firmino insists he did not abuse Holgate|
|Leganes 1 Real Madrid 3: Casemiro inspires comeback for Zidane´s men|
|Milan have everything to lose – Gattuso worried about complacency|
|United a big team in defeat - Mourinho aims dig at City|
|Firmino escapes punishment after Holgate allegation|
|Mourinho benches Pogba for Sevilla clash|
|Cavendish withdraws after Abu Dhabi crash|
|Rugby greats put on show in French Alps snow|
|Gremio refute claims of €40m Arthur agreement with Barcelona|
|Messi will sign another Barcelona contract, predicts Bartomeu|
|UEFA rejects PSG appeal over Rabiot´s Real Madrid booking|
|Hardaker sacked by Tigers after failed drugs test|
|James to miss ´a few days´ of Bayern training with calf injury|
|Bellew not feeling Haye love|
|Nantes not stopping Ranieri if Italy come calling|
|Milan owner Li slams ´fake news´ over financial woes|
|Italy make three changes for France encounter|
|Wenger still gunning for top four spot with Arsenal|
|AFC Champions League Review: Kanazaki braces inspires Kashima|
|Gloucester centre Scott to re-join Edinburgh|
|Ospina to get Wembley nod as Wenger waits on Ramsey|