ROME, Italy - Unseeded Johanna Konta's career week on clay continued at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, as she ended the eight-match winning streak of Madrid champion Kiki Bertens to reach her second final of the season, 5-7, 7-5, 6-2.
After failing to serve out the opening set and losing the last three games of it to fall behind, the British No.1 scored the decisive break at 5-5 in the second and cruised in the third to score her first Top 5 win in over two years, and reach her second final in three tournaments on clay this year.
"I'm very pleased to be in the final here. It's my second biggest final behind Miami. That's a big achievement in my career so far. I'm definitely very conscious and appreciative of this opportunity, of this situation," Konta said.
"I've never really doubted my ability on the surface. I don't necessarily feel like this is massively out of the blue or super wow. I'm definitely pleased."
The win over the newly-minted World No.4 is Konta's first over a player ranked World No.5 or better since a dramatic quarterfinal victory over then-World No.2 Simona Halep at the 2017 Wimbledon Championships.
The two hour, 47-minute victory also puts her into her biggest final since she won the Premier Mandatory Miami Open earlier that same season.
Konta needed four match points to seal a spot in the final, as she made three unforced errors with a 40-0 lead in the match's final game, but fired off a first-ball forehand winner and a big serve to end the match.
"I knew going into the match that playing against Kiki, I mean, she's playing some of her best tennis right now in her career. She came off of winning Madrid. She's definitely in amazing form. She's No.4 in the world. She's one of the best players right now," Konta said.
"I knew going out there that there wasn't going to be one solution. It wasn't going to be one answer or one specific game plan that was going to be, yeah, like: Wow, that's okay, I've cracked it.
"It was going to be a continuous adjustment, a continuous openness to figure it out within the match. I thought I did that well.
"I stayed very open in trying to find a solution in each point, in each ball. I just trusted that. I kind of accepted both ways. I mean, after I lost the first set, I mean, I didn't do much wrong.
"It was a very good set of tennis. Equally the second set, as well. There wasn't anybody putting a bad foot out of line.
"In the third, I definitely felt that I was able to maintain my level a bit better than her. I think that gave me the upper hand in stringing some more points together. I'm just very happy to have come through."
Prior to this season, the World No.42 had never before advanced past the quarterfinals of a tour-level event on clay, but looks to win her first title after finishing runner-up to Maria Sakkari at the Grand Prix De SAR La Princesse Lalla Meryem earlier this month.
Konta has a chance for a Sakkari rematch in Sunday's championship, as she will face either the Greek No.1 or No.4 seed Karolina Pliskova.
"I just played Maria two weeks ago in the last final, so that would be pretty ridiculous if we played, pretty amazing," said the Brit.
"Maria is playing with an incredible amount of confidence and trust in her game which makes her game that much more dangerous and difficult to play against. She is a very tough opponent. On the clay she's playing very well.
"If I play her, it will be a nice rematch from Rabat. It will be a fun match to play.
"Then equally against Karolina, she's been at the top of the game for years now. She's able to perform on all surfaces. She's able to really show up to every match. She's very difficult to play in that sense because she has a big serve, she has big shots, but she's also backing it up with being incredibly astute on court.
"It's a final of a tournament, so you're not going to have an easy match whoever you play."