Johanna Konta reaches Italian Open quarter-finals with Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams wins
British No 1 defeats American duo on same day in Rome
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 16/05/19 5:27pm
Johanna Konta defeated Grand Slam champions Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams to advance to the Italian Open quarter-finals on Thursday.
Due to persistent rain on Wednesday, Konta was forced to play twice on Thursday and she produced two impressive performances to underline her improvement on clay.
She kicked off proceedings with arguably the best clay-court victory of her career, defeating French Open runner-up Stephens 6-7 6-4 6-1 in the second-round.
Konta's only previous victory over a top 10 player on clay came against Roberta Vinci in Rome three years ago, but she made the perfect start; breaking Stephens' serve twice and saving four break points to lead 4-0.
However, the 2017 US Champion responded by winning six of the next eight games to force a tie-break, which she won 7-3.
Konta claimed a crucial break of serve at 4-4 in the second set to force a decider and although Stephens drew first blood in the third, the Briton then reeled off six consecutive games to wrap up a fine victory.
This set up a third-round showdown later in the day against Venus Williams, who received a bye after her sister Serena withdrew with injury.
Konta had fallen at the third round stage here in each of the last three years, but she eased past Williams 6-2 6-4 in just 72 minutes to reach the quarter-finals in Rome for the very first time.
The American had her right knee heavily strapped and struggled throughout a one-sided opening set, which Konta won 6-2.
Williams improved slightly in the second but she was still broken twice by the 27-year-old, only for Konta to instantly relinquish the initiative.
However, with the scores locked at 4-4 in set two, Konta struck the decisive blow, breaking Williams for a third time in the set before holding serve to seal her progression to the last eight, where she will face either Daria Kasatkina or Marketa Vondrousova.
Czech teenager Vondrousova, 19, defeated world number two Simona Halep 2-6 7-5 6-3 - her second victory over the Romanian this season.
World No 1 Naomi Osaka recorded a straight sets win over Dominika Cibulkova to set up a meeting with Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu for a place in the quarter-finals.
Meanwhile, second seed Petra Kvitova takes on Greece's Maria Sakkari in round-three, having thrashed Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva 6-0 6-1 earlier in the day.
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