Johanna Konta eases past Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu to set up Garbine Muguruza clash
Konta to face Spain's Garbine Muguruza next; Victoria Azarenka double bagels Sofia Kenin in Rome
Last Updated: 18/09/20 10:24am
Johanna Konta marked her return to the clay with a comfortable victory over Romania qualifier Irina-Camelia Begu to progress the round of 16 at the Italian Open.
The world No 13 came out a 6-0 6-4 winner in 29 minutes in her first match on clay since suffering defeat to Marketa Vondrousova in the semi-finals of last year's French Open.
Begu, who is ranked 77th, won just 12 points in the opening set before earning her first break in the second as Konta controlled the contest throughout.
The win means the British No 1 will now face Spain's Garbine Muguruza after she beat American teenager Coco Gauff 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-3.
It was Muguruza who came out on top the last time her and Konta met, clinching a three-set battle in Australia back in 2019.
"We have never played on clay, I don't think. We have had plenty of battles. Hopefully tomorrow will be another great battle," Konta said.
"But she's also won a lot of matches this year obviously pre-COVID period, making it to the finals of the Australian Open.
"I mean, she's definitely played some very, very good tennis this year. That's the Garbine I'm expecting to play tomorrow, very in-form, very confident, and she's always been a great player. It will be a great challenge and a great opportunity for me to play her again."
Victoria Azarenka continued her superb form as she beat Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-0 6-0 to follow up her victory over Venus Williams.
The 31-year-old recently reached her first Grand Slam final in seven years as she was beaten by Naomi Osaka at the US Open.
"I think the consistency was the key to the scoreline," she said. "I feel that I played really smart tennis today.
"I was able to use a lot of court. I was able to use a lot of different pace so I'm very happy with that. But the key to the scoreline was definitely being able to maintain the level that I started with.
"I feel that I was really more focused on what I can do today on the court rather than what she does well. So I think that was more of a difference today."
Fifth seed Kiki Bertens lost to world No 50 Polona Hercog, while Yulia Putintseva beat Petra Martic in three sets.