Rome: Simona Halep’s hold on the No. 1 ranking received a boost when American opponent Madison Keys withdrew from their third-round match at the Italian Open on Thursday due to a right rib injury.
Halep needed to reach the quarter-finals and progress further than No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki to hold onto the top spot, and she has accomplished the first task.
Wozniacki was facing 15th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova in a late match on the red clay of the Foro Italico.
Keys also withdrew from the doubles competition, where she was partnered with Venus Williams.
Last year in Rome, Halep rolled her ankle in the final and lost a lead and the championship to Elina Svitolina.
Halep will next play either US Open champion Sloane Stephens or seventh-seeded Caroline Garcia.
Svitolina also reached the quarter-finals, overcoming a poor start to beat 14th-seeded Daria Kasatkina 0-6, 6-3, 6-2. She’ll next face either former No. 1 Angelique Kerber or Maria Sakkari of Greece.
Jelena Ostapenko, who is preparing to defend her title at Roland Garros, rallied past Johanna Konta 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 and will meet either three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova or Daria Gavrilova.
In men’s action, Fabio Fognini beat Peter Gojowczyk 6-4, 6-4 to reach his first quarter-final in 11 appearances at his home tournament.
The temperamental Fognini slammed his racket midway through the second set and received a warning from the chair umpire but otherwise held his composure to follow up an impressive win over Dominic Thiem a day earlier.
His behavoiur was reminiscent of world No. 5 Karolina Pliskova, who lost her cool over a line call on Wednesday and bashed a hole into the umpire’s chair with her racket after suffering a 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 defeat to Sakkari.
Pliskova’s twin sister Kristyna, who also ranks in the world’s top 100, slammed Mrozinska on social media.
“The worst i have ever seen @wta and i hope this lady Marta Mrozinska will never ever judge any match of me or Karolina again #blacklistforever,” the 26-year-old wrote on Twitter.
Fognini’s next opponent will be either seven-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal or Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov.
This is the last major warm-up for the French Open, which starts in 10 days.