World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty continued her quest for a second straight title, rallying past Shelby Rogers to reach the quarterfinals at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston on Thursday night.
The top-seeded Barty hadn't played in an 11-month stretch from February 2020 until the Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne in January due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rogers gave Barty a challenge, charging from behind to win the second set and tying things at 4-all in the third.
But the Australian won the last two games to close out the match, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4, at the season's first clay-court event. Barty will face Paula Badosa of Spain on Friday for a spot in the semifinals. Badosa defeated American Catherine McNally 6-3, 6-3.
“It has been a very quick turnaround,” she said of changing surfaces. “I'm still allowing myself time to get used to that. But with each match, that will get better and better.”
Others in the final eight include former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, who hadn't advanced to a tournament quarterfinals since the French Open in 2019.
Stephens ousted Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3, 6-4 and will play for a spot in the semifinals against Russian Veronika Kudermetova. Kudermetova, seeded 15th in the season's first clay-court event, topped Kurumi Nara of Japan 6-0, 6-3.
Kvitova bows out, Muguruza retires hurt
Also reaching the quarters is the youngest competitor here in 17-year-old American Coco Gauff, the 14th seed who defeated countrywoman Lauren Davis 6-2, 7-6 (2).
Gauff has advanced to the quarterfinal round in three of last four tournaments. She said when she lost several points in a row in the second set against Davis, she snapped herself back into the match.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, seeded third, fell to Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, 6-4, 6-1.
The sixth seed, Garbine Muguruza of Spain, was ahead in her match with Yulia Puntintseva of Kazakhstan before retiring with a left leg injury.