By Ros Satar
- Johanna Konta def. Marketa Vondrousova 6-3 3-6 6-1
- Konta v Kiki Bertens  | H2H Tied at 2-2
ROME, ITALY – British No. 1 Johanna Konta continued her roll in Rome as she defeated Marketa Vondrousova to set up a semi-final clash with Kiki Bertens.
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Johanna Konta def. Marketa Vondrousova 6-3 3-6 6-1
British No. 1 Johanna Konta showed grit and determination to come through a though quarter-final against an eventually ailing Marketa Vondrousova to make her first clay court Premier Mandatory semi-final.
Rome has been her most successful of the tour clay court events in the past few years, until her run to the Rabat final, and after a tough day of double-headers for both players, it was Konta who started the brighter of the two with an early break. Vondrousova had looked to be struggling at the end of her match with Daria Kasatkina and cut a despondent figure after being broken for the first set and was in tears with her coach.
However, as we have seen before, Konta has a tendency to tail off, and it looked as though that could be a possibility as she suffered a slight wobble in the second set, allowing a slightly more rejuvenated Vondrousova a route back into the match.
Konta was again the first to break at the start of the third set, and just went from strength to strength in the decider, breaking Vondrousova twice more in succession to seal a spot in a second semi-final (on clay, no less) this year, and her biggest career semi-final since reaching the Wimbledon semi-final in 2017.
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Konta v Kiki Bertens  | H2H Tied at 2-2
Next up for Konta is a tough task ahead against No. 6 seed Kiki Bertens. The Dutchwoman will be rested having had a walkover at the start of the day when World No. 1 and top seed Naomi Osaka had to withdraw with a hand injury.
Not only that but while Bertens has broken out across more surfaces than clay, this is by far her best surface. Five of her eight titles are on the dirt, and Bertens arrived in Rome off the back of an emotional win in Madrid, going one better than her runner-up place last year.
However, at times in Madrid it looked as though she might have been struggling physically, although she came back to beat Simona Halep quite convincingly in the final and has had three setters on the way to the quarter-final, and will come into the semi-final rested.
For Konta there is reward enough as she looks to have scraped into the seedings for Roland Garros which, on top of her new-found confidence and self-belief on the slippy stuff, might see her finally break the duck of first round losses in Paris, if the draw is kind to her.
However, before that there is the matter of putting in a decent showing against a very good clay-courter. It is possible – in her second-round match against Halep in Madrid, she caught the Roland Garros champion napping and had a lead over her in the first set.
She will need to do a lot of what she did against Vondrousova, even having the audacity to burn the Czech with some drop-shots. Bertens is a very capable all-rounder, a lot of variety, great foot speed, and is very solid at the net.
However, don’t underestimate what a little confidence will do for a player. If she has a quick start and her serve is firing well, she could certainly push Bertens to three sets.
Prediction: Bertens in three sets.
Konta and Bertens are scheduled on Court Centrale at 12pm (11am BST).
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