Konta through to face Bertens in Rome semis

Published by Reuters / Tennismash

Johanna Konta celebrates victory against Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic in their quarterfinal; Getty Images
Johanna Konta defeats Marketa Vondrousova to reach the Italian Open semifinals, but world No.1 Naomi Osaka withdaws injured.

Johanna Konta celebrated her birthday with a three-set win over Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova to reach the Italian Open semifinals on Friday.

The Briton, who defeated Americans Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams in her two matches on Thursday, will face sixth seed Kiki Bertens on Saturday for a place in the final.

Madrid Open champion Bertens reached the last four after Japan’s world No.1 Naomi Osaka pulled out with a thumb injury ahead of their quarterfinal.

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Osaka said she was unable to grip her racquet properly after winning both her matches in straight sets on Thursday.

Wednesday’s rain forced the players to play two matches in a day and Osaka beat both Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova and Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu in straight sets.

“I woke up (on Friday) morning and couldn’t really move my thumb,” Osaka told a press conference.

“I tried to practice and grip my racquet, but I couldn’t and then I kept feeling this pain whenever I tried to move my hand in different directions.

“Right now, I’m really, not mad, but in between sad and disappointed because I really wanted to play my match.”

Konta, celebrating her 28th birthday, hit 42 winners against the 19-year-old Vondrousova and dominated the final set to clinch victory in one hour 53 minutes.

She heads towards this month’s French Open in fine form on clay, having finished runner-up in the Morocco Open at the start of May.

Fourth seed Karolina Pliskova recorded her 500th career win with a 6-7(7) 6-2 6-2 victory over Victoria Azarenka.

Czech fourth seed,  Pliskova, who accounted for Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in round two, will now face Maria Sakkari of Greece, who put out France’s Kristina Mladenovic 4-6 6-3 6-0, in the other semifinal late on Friday.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a very, very tough match,” Sakkari said.

“[Pliskova is] going to be up for it. Of course, we both want to be in the final. I’m just looking forward for the match.”

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