World number one Ashleigh Barty remains on course for back-to-back WTA titles after beating Shelby Rogers in the last 16 of the Charleston Open.
The Australian won in three sets to set up a clash with Paula Badosa today as she continues her impressive form on clay.
Also vying for silverware in South Carolina is teenage prodigy Coco Gauff and former US Open champion Sloane Stephens.
The former has continued her gradual rise through the rankings this year, while Stephens looks to have finally found some form after a difficult couple of seasons.
Here’s an analysis of all three players leading into the quarter finals of the competition.
Having won her second Miami Open title last week, Barty approached this tournament in fine form.
Moving on to her favoured surface of clay, the Australian has a win rate of almost 75% and is clearly the player to beat in Charleston.
A champion at Roland Garros in 2019, Barty will now have an extra week’s rest as she bids to win her second major, with the French Open postponed until the 30th of May in the hope that more fans will be able to attend.
A win this week would almost certainly make her favourite leading into the Grand Slam, though her quarter final opponent, Paula Badosa, should not be underestimated.
The 23-year old Spanish player won a Junior French Open title herself in 2015, and clay is likewise her preferred surface.
Nonetheless, Barty holding on to her number one ranking has clearly given her momentum, and on current evidence alone, it’s impossible to bet against her.
The 17-year-old has enjoyed a remarkable rise through the ranks since she burst onto the scene at Wimbledon in 2019.
Despite winning just the one WTA title, Gauff has steadily improved year by year and is now ranked in the top 40 in the world.
Having reached a semi final in Adelaide and a quarter final in Dubai already this year, the teenager is playing some of the best tennis of her career and is dedicated to further improving her game.
Gauff recently announced she’d come off social media to focus on herself and vanish any external voices giving her criticism online.
Historically, clay has been Gauff’s worst surface, but the American did beat British number one Johanna Konta at last year’s French Open.
Gauff faces Tunisian born Ons Jabeur in South Carolina next –- a player she defeated on clay at the Italian Open last year.
As a former world number three, and winner of the 2017 US Open, Stephens was one of the most feared plates in the world at one stage but has struggled in recent years.
Without a win over a top 30 player and without consecutive victories since the 2020 US Open, the American looks to finally be revitalized.
Stephens beat Madison Keys in the round of 32 to end her poor record against top 30 opposition and followed this up with an accomplished performance against Ajla Tomljanović.
The 28-year old now faces Russian 15th seed Veronika Kudermetova in the quarter finals. There may still be a long way to go before Stephens is back to her best, but this appears to be the start of some sort of resurgence.News Now - Sport News