British No 1 Jo Konta delivers her best ever performance on clay to reach semi-finals at the Italian Open
- Jo Konta celebrated her 28th birthday by beating Marketa Vondrousova
- The British No 1 won in an hour and 53 minutes at the Italian Open on Friday
- She now faces the hugely in-form Kiki Bertens of Holland in the semi-finals
Jo Konta gave herself a 28th birthday present with her best ever performance on clay that sees her into the semi-finals of the Italian Open.
The British No 1 defeated highly rated Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to go deeper than she has before in a tournament of this significance, on what is supposedly her weakest surface.
She now faces the hugely in-form Kiki Bertens of Holland, who has emerged as one of the favourites for the French Open.
Jo Konta defeated highly rated Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 on Friday
Regardless of the result Konta’s ranking has been boosted so much by her week’s work that she can expect to be among the 32 seeds at Roland Garros.
This is the best tennis that Konta has played since making the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2017, and it was her third win in two days, following on from her dismissals of Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams.
Vondrousova looked a little weary from her previous day’s exertions and faded after fighting back in the second set.
She double faulted to give Konta the decisive break for 2-1 in the decider and it was one-way traffic from then on.
The British No 1 has played her best tennis since making the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2017
The events of Thursday had clearly taken a toll on plenty of players, Roger Federer and women’s world No 1 Naomi Osaka included.
With many survivors having had to play twice after the Wednesday washout, some did not feel up to going out all over again, especially with the French Open beginning a week on Sunday.
Osaka withdrew citing a hand injury, while Federer — a late entry in the first place — cited a leg problem after his double exertions the previous day.
He gave Stefanos Tsitsipas a walkover and a rematch of his Madrid semi-final against Rafael Nadal, who looks to be running into form.
‘I am disappointed that I will not be able to compete today,’ said 37-year-old Federer. ‘I am not 100 per cent physically and after consultation with my team, it was determined that I not play.
‘Rome has always been one of my favourite cities to visit and I hope to be back next year.’
Both of them may also have looked at the weather forecast for the Italian capital over the weekend, which seems threatening. Neither is likely to miss Roland Garros.
Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios is not expected to be suspended following his default of Thursday, with a £48,000 fine and the forfeiting of 45 ranking points deemed sufficient punishment.
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