Konta celebrates birthday in style, Pliskova marches on in Rome

By Peter Hanson 18 May 2019 76
Konta celebrates birthday in style, Pliskova marches on in Rome

Naomi Osaka's withdrawal preceded a fine birthday present for Johanna Konta, while there were three-set quarter-final wins for Karolina Pliskova and Maria Sakkari at the Internazionali d'Italia.

Top seed Osaka was forced to pull out in Rome ahead of her last-eight clash with Kiki Bertens due to a hand injury, opening up the draw for the remaining players.

Konta celebrated turning 28 in style by winning a three-setter with Marketa Vondrousova, while Pliskova also lasted the distance against Victoria Azarenka to seal a landmark win.

And Sakkari roared back against Kristina Mladenovic to maintain her hopes of triumphing at the WTA Premier event.

 

HAPPY BIRTH-CLAY, JO…

Konta is enjoying a career resurgence. The Briton reached a first final in almost 12 months in Rabat a fortnight ago, while she is now in her biggest semi since Wimbledon in 2017.

It was a back-and-forth match against Vondrousova, but ultimately Konta ran out a 6-3 3-6 6-1 victor.

Before this year, Konta had never managed to win three main-draw matches on clay in a given season but she now faces Bertens for a place in the final.

500 NOT OUT FOR PLISKOVA

In a battle between two former world number ones, Pliskova ousted Azarenka 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 6-2 for her 500th career victory.

Pliskova, this season's leader in three-set wins, was beaten by the same opponent in Stuttgart last month but has now levelled their head-to-head meetings at 4-4.

"I think the last couple years I know I'm playing a lot of three-setters," said Pliskova. 

"I'm not panicking if I lose first set or even the second. I'm just there. I keep fighting. I feel quite confident coming to the third set, because I know I won quite a lot in last couple of years."

Mladenovic seemed destined for the semis after taking the first set against Sakkari, but the Greek roared back to triumph 5-7 6-3 6-0.

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