Konta rallies past Stephens to set up Venus clash in Rome

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Rome (AFP)

Britain's Johanna Konta set up a third round clash with Venus Williams on Thursday after coming from a set down to beat American Sloane Stephens at the Italian Open.

Konta, 27, won 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-1 against the seventh-seeded Stephens who reached the semi-finals in Madrid last week.

Konta, ranked 42, next meets Williams, the 1999 Rome winner, who was handed a third round ticket after sister Serena pulled out before they were due to meet when her knee injury flared up.

Konta threw away a 4-0 lead in the first set, losing a tie-break, but regained the momentum in the following two to book her ticket to the third round for a fourth straight year after two and a half hours on court at the Foro Italico.

She plays former world number one Williams later on Thursday with competitors doubling up after play was wiped out on Wednesday because of unseasonal rain in Rome.

Williams leads Konta 4-3 in previous meetings which includes a victory for the American in Rome in the third round two years ago.