Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Johanna Konta edged out by Jelena Ostapenko in Rome

Johanna Konta edged out by Jelena Ostapenko in Rome

In the end, the former number one secured her fifth win of the set with one left to attain.

The 20-year-old Latvian maintained her momentum at the start of the decider to break her opponent once again and had three break points in the third game to increase her control, but Konta showed good resistance to hold serve. She then watched points and rankings drain away during 2018 after failing to match her outstanding wins in 2017-the title in Sydney, quarter-finals at the Australian Open, and her first Premier Mandatory title in Miami. In the victory, Sharapova won 56 percent of her first serve points and 53 percent of her second serve points. The Briton held to seal the set, 6-2, having not faced a break point and making just three unforced errors. While she never allowed it to be comfortable for Ostapenko, she ended up going down in two hours and 13 minutes.

Sharapova had 38 winners as she prevented the third set from being played. The Latvian broke in the first game of the decider, held to love, and nearly broke again in the third game.

She went deep in the sixth game forcing deuce with Sharapova on serve that spanned eight breaks and 14 minutes.

Ostapenko, who is preparing for the defence of her French Open title at Roland Garros, recovered from a slow start to record a first victory over the British No 1.

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The next two went by quickly handing Sharapova a 4-1 rout that led to the 24-year-old calling coach out Jarryd Maher who suggest she adjust to counter the serve of her opponent. As it is, Ostapenko is coming into form on the ideal courts to prepare her for her Roland Garros defence.

Maria Sharapova is coming off a straight sets win over Daria Gavrilova that took 19 games to decide.

Romanian tennis player Simona Halep, world No. 1, on Thursday advanced to the quarterfinals of the Italian Open, a WTA clay court tournament held in Rome, as American Madison Keys had to retire with a right rib injury. While she hadn't played a full match against Gavrilova, the former number one had to keep her own game together while attacking the very tired 24-year-old.

Konta, the world No 22, was one set away from her finest victory on a clay court - undoubtedly her weakest surface - but Ostapenko, the world No 6 from Latvia, fought back with the help of her trademark powerful groundstrokes to win 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the third round. She will play either Wozniacki or Sevastova.

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