World number one Iga Swiatek through to last eight in Rome

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Iga Swiatek set up a clash with Bianca Andreescu in Rome (Andrew Medichini/AP) (AP)
Iga Swiatek set up a clash with Bianca Andreescu in Rome (Andrew Medichini/AP) (AP)

Defending champion Iga Swiatek recovered from a poor start to defeat Victoria Azarenka and reach the quarter-finals of the Italian Open in Rome.

The world number one, who is bidding for a fifth consecutive title, began the match with a slew of errors and trailed 3-0 but battled back to claim a 6-4 6-1 victory.

The first set alone took 79 minutes, with Swiatek saving eight of the 11 break points she faced, but the Pole found her form in the second to move through to an intriguing clash with Bianca Andreescu.

Former US Open champion Andreescu missed the start of this season after struggling with the mental toll of breakthrough success as a teenager but remains a major talent and is having her best week since reaching the final of the Miami Open more than a year ago.

The Canadian, now 21, defeated Croatian Petra Martic 6-4 6-4 on Thursday while third seed Aryna Sabalenka, another player who has been struggling for form recently, impressed in a 6-1 6-4 win over Madrid finalist Jessica Pegula.

In the men’s event, second seed Alexander Zverev defeated Alex De Minaur 6-3 7-6 (5) while Stefanos Tsitsipas fought back from a set down to see off Karen Khachanov 4-6 6-0 6-3.

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