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Italian Open: Konta beats Stephens but faces Venus Williams in second match of day

The Guardian logo The Guardian 4 days ago Guardian sport
a person hitting a ball with a racket: Johanna Konta beat Sloane Stephens but will face Venus Williams later on Thursday. © Getty Images Johanna Konta beat Sloane Stephens but will face Venus Williams later on Thursday.

Johanna Konta came back from a set down to beat Sloane Stephens for arguably the best win of her career in the second round at the Italian Open. However, she must return to the court later on Thursday to face Venus Williams.

After her match was delayed after a washout on Wednesday, the British No 1 took to the court and, despite opening a 4-0 lead, lost the first set 7-6 after a tiebreak in which she made too many errors at crucial times.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) © Getty (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

She fought back to win the second set 6-4 after a more consistent display, showing improvements in her clay court technique. She then thumped Stephens in the third set, beating her 6-1 to see out a two-set victory. Konta’s only previous victory over a top-10 player on clay came against Roberta Vinci at the same venue three years ago.

With play backed up following the rain on Wednesday, she is due to play a second match on Thursday, this time against Williams.

(Photo by Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images) © Getty (Photo by Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images)

Naomi Osaka comfortably beat Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 6-3 in the first of her two matches on Thursday. Osaka is also due to play Mihaela Buzarnescu or Julia Görges for a spot in the quarterfinals. If she wins, she will retain her No 1 ranking.

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic also need to win twice on Thursday to reach the last eight.

Distracting players on Thursday were fighter jets above the Foro Italico rehearsing for an air display later. Players often appeared bothered by the noise and flybys.

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Related: The top 20 British Fed Cup and Davis Cup point scorers [Read Sport]


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