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Konta earns Stephens tie, while Williams off to flier

Johanna Konta
Johanna Konta

By Steve Simpson

Britain's Johanna Konta will play American Sloane Stephens in the Italian Open second round after a straight-sets win over her compatriot Alison Riske.

Konta (27) took fewer than 90 minutes to defeat Riske 6-4 6-1 in the first round in Rome.

The British No.1 beat 2017 US Open champion Stephens in Brisbane in January - their only previous meeting.

Serena Williams, meanwhile, opened her clay-court season with a routine 6-4 6-2 win over Swedish qualifier Rebecca Peterson in the first round of the Italian Open yesterday.

Williams fell behind 3-1 in the first set but then began to take control with her baseline power on a windy day at the Foro Italico.

When Williams ran down a passing attempt from Peterson and replied with a cross-court winner to break for a 5-2 lead in the second set, she let out a scream and bent over as she pumped both of her fists.

Williams finished with 28 winners to Peterson's eight, and committed only two more unforced errors than the 58th-ranked Swede, 22-20.

Garbine Muguruza won her first match in over a month as, for the third time this season, she defeated Zheng Saisai without the loss of a set in the opening round of the Premier 5 event in the Italian capital, 6-3 6-4.

Great Britain's Kyle Edmund bowed out of the men's event after a first-round defeat by Fernando Verdasco.

Edmund took the first set 6-4, but Verdasco hit back to win the second and third 6-4 6-2 and wrapped up victory in two hours and 23 minutes.

The 2010 Rome semi-finalist will meet fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the second round.

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