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BC-TEN--Italian Open,1st Ld-Writethru

May 18, 2019

ROME (AP) — Johanna Konta rallied past sixth-seeded Kiki Bertens 5-7, 7-5, 6-2 in nearly three hours on Saturday to reach the Italian Open final for the biggest clay-court result of her career.

Konta’s only previous final on clay came recently in Rabat, Morocco, where she lost the title match to Maria Sakkari.

This result will give the British player even more confidence entering the French Open, which starts next weekend.

Bertens was coming off the Madrid Open title last week.

In Sunday’s final, Konta will face either fourth-seeded Karolina Pliskova or Sakkari.

In the men’s semifinals later, Rafael Nadal meets Stefanos Tsitsipas — a week after losing to the Greek player in Madrid. Also, Novak Djokovic plays Diego Schwartzman.

Midway through the first set, Konta surprised Bertens with a drop shot winner during a baseline rally, causing Bertens to fall on her stomach to the clay as she rapidly changed directions. Then in the next game, Konta ran down a drop shot and produced an angled winner that drew a roar from the Foro Italico crowd.

The 42nd-ranked Konta served for the first set at 5-4 but was broken at love. But Bertens double faulted to let Konta serve for the second set and Konta got an early break in the third.

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More AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Andrew Dampf on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndrewDampf

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