Johanna Konta reaches semi-finals of Italian Open for first time in her career
Konta to face Kiki Bertens in semi-finals on Saturday
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 17/05/19 6:49pm
Johanna Konta advanced to the Italian Open semi-finals for the first time in her career after overcoming Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova on Friday.
Konta, who was celebrating her 28th birthday, defeated Vondrousova 6-3 3-6 6-1 in one hour and 55 minutes to secure arguably the biggest victory of her career since reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2017.
The Briton had progressed to the quarter-finals after claiming back-to-back victories over Grand Slam champions Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams on Thursday, as the players were forced to play twice due to Wednesday's washout.
Vondrousova, 19, had defeated world No 2 Simona Halep in round two, before seeing off Daria Kasatkina to seal her place in the last eight.
Konta started strongly and broke Vondrousova in the third game of the opening set, before forcing a further break of serve to seize the initiative.
The Czech youngster responded strongly by taking the second 6-3 to force a decider, but the British No 1 breezed to the third and final set, reeling off six consecutive games to confirm her semi-final spot.
This victory ensures Konta will return to the world's top 32 on Monday, which means she will be seeded at Roland Garros.
However, the 28-year-old is now eyeing the title and will face sixth seed Kiki Bertens in the semi-finals, after the Dutch star received a bye following Naomi Osaka's withdrawal.
Osaka, who also won two matches on Thursday, was forced to pull out due to a hand injury, although her victories ensure she will retain her world No 1 ranking ahead of the French Open.
Nevertheless, the two-time Grand Slam champion admitted she was uncertain about whether this injury will affect her status for Roland Garros.
Elsewhere, Karolina Pliskova battled past Victoria Azarenka 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-2 to advance to her first semi-final in Rome.
The fourth seed fired in an astonishing 41 winners to complete a fine comeback and she will take on Kristina Mladenovic or Maria Sakkari for a place in Sunday's final.
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