ROME, Italy -- Top-ranked Brit Johanna Konta moved into the quarterfinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia for the first time on Thursday by winning her second match of the day over 1999 champion Venus Williams, 6-2, 6-4.
World No.42 Konta notched a three-set upset of No.7 seed Sloane Stephens earlier in the day to reach a fourth consecutive round-of-16 showing in Rome, and retained enough energy to pick up a 72-minute victory over former World No.1 Williams just hours later.
"To come through that [Stephens] match, come back again this afternoon, I was looking forward to playing Venus again," Konta told the press, after her day was complete. "I always enjoy being on court with [Venus]. Just pleased to have come through that match as well, two tough opponents."
"I've been to the third round here for a number of years, so I'm very pleased to have gone one further," Konta added. "I love being here. I've always enjoyed coming to Rome, even outside of tennis. It extends my trip here, which is nice. Hopefully keep extending it."
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams had a slim lead in their head-to-head, having won four of their previous seven matches, including in the round of 16 in Rome in 2017. But Konta avenged that loss and leveled the head-to-head after an astounding display, which included 36 winners to just 13 unforced errors.
"I'm playing with a little more variety, a little more awareness and trust in my ability to do different things," Konta explained. "Trying to use that in the right proportion during matches."
Konta will square off against one of two unseeded players in the elite eight: either Russia’s Daria Kasatkina or Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who will play their quarterfinal tilt later on Thursday.
"To be honest, I mean, whoever you play right now, you're going to have a tough match literally from the very first round to the very last," Konta stated. "Just looking forward to whoever it is, having a good match tomorrow."
Konta got the match off to a flying start by claiming a service break in the opening game with a stirring crosscourt backhand. Williams settled down on serve in the next couple of games, holding at love twice in a row, but was never able to reach break point on Konta’s serve in the opener to try to pull herself back into the set.
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The British No.1 continued her hot run of form by attaining a second break, pulling through a long game to reach 5-2 on her third break point. Konta kept cruising, picking up another love hold to finish up the set, which she punctuated with her fourth ace of the opening frame.
Konta appeared to be cruising to victory after she broke Williams with back-to-back crosscourt forehand winners to open the second set. But the American legend was not through yet, and she earned her first service break of the match in the following game to level the set at 1-1.
Konta withstood two break points to hold for 2-2, and then the players exchanged breaks en route to 3-3 as Williams began to impress herself upon the Brit’s service more frequently. But Konta claimed a much-needed quick service game at 4-3, holding at love behind a flurry of ferocious forehand winners.
Williams succumbed to the power game of Konta in the following game, as the Brit broke once more to lead 5-4 and serve for the match. A relatively easy service hold followed, as Konta closed out the win on her second match point with a winning backhand, as she finally broke past the round-of-16 barrier at Rome for the first time in her four appearances at the event.