Muguruza outlasts Georges in Rome

Garbine Muguruza survived a testing encounter against Julia Georges to reach her first clay court quarterfinal of the season at the Italian Open.

The Spaniard, who will start the defence of her French Open title at Roland Garros next week, dug herself out of a hole in the second set to beat Georges 7-5, 6-4.

"I'm very happy with every victory, honestly," Muguruza said after the match. "I feel like right now every girl, every woman, is playing very good. You never know, when they go to the court, who is going to win.

"It's so even that I felt today like if I didn't play well and concentrated, I could have easily lost this match."

That was certainly true, as Georges had her chances in the game. She matched Muguruza shot for shot in the first set before relinquishing a late break at 5-5, and looked to be right back in the contest after opening up a 4-1 lead in the second.

But Muguruza found another level to win five games in a row and bring a premature end to a contest that seemed destined for another set.

"She's a very aggressive player with a big serve. Sometimes she went far up in the score – like in the second set – but I was waiting. I knew I would have my opportunities later. I didn't really panic on that.

"I'm happy to be able to come down from 4-1, play good and win 6-4."

Looking ahead to Roland Garros next week, Muguruza is trying not to think of the pressure that comes with defending the title.

"People will ask if I'm going to win the French Open again, I'm, like, 'I don't know.' I think it's not a very logical question when they ask me these. I'm, like, 'Yeah, hopefully.'

"But I think it's very hard to do like what Halep did. She won Madrid and next year she wins the same tournament. I think that's very hard to do, and especially like Grand Slams.

"I'm not thinking a lot about French Open. For the last month, all the questions everyone is asking me are about French Open. I know I'm the defending champion. Hey, not a lot of girls can say that. So I will take it in a positive way and we will see what happens."

Thursday's third-round results in Rome

Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) beat Mona Barthel (Germany) 3-6 6-0 6-0            
Garbine Muguruza Blanco (Spain) beat Julia Goerges (Germany) 7-5 6-4         
Kiki Bertens (Netherlands) beat Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) 7-6(3) 6-1      
Venus Williams (U.S.) beat Johanna Konta (Britain) 6-1 3-6 6-1             
Simona Halep (Romania) beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) 6-1 4-6 6-0 
Daria Gavrilova (Australia) beat Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) 2-6 7-5 6-4    
Anett Kontaveit (Estonia) beat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (Croatia) 6-1 6-1  
Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) beat Timea Bacsinszky (Switzerland) 6-1 7-5