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By Chris Oddo | Wednesday May 17, 2017

 
Venus Williams

Venus Williams reached the round of 16 at Rome with a straight-sets win over Lesia Tsurenko on Wednesday.

Photo Source: Michael Steele/Getty

Venus Williams reached the round of 16 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia for just the second time since 2012 with a 6-4, 6-3 win over World No.41 Lesia Tsurenko.

Williams, who owns a 161-55 lifetime record on the clay, won the Rome title in 1999 but has not been back to the quarterfinals since 2012.

She’ll bid for slot in the quarterfinals on Thursday when she meets World No.6 Johanna Konta in the round of 16. The British No.1 owns a 3-1 lifetime record over Williams and defeated her in the Miami semis en route to her biggest career title.

With Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams out of Roland Garros, both Williams and Konta could emerge as unlikely clay heroes this spring. Konta has only won four matches on the surface in her career, but she has become a consistent performer on tour in the last year and a half.

Most of Williams’ success on clay came earlier in her career, but as she proved at this year’s Australian Open, she is playing some of the best tennis of her career—no matter the surface.

Williams won 33 of 63 return points against Tsurenko and broke serve five times on seven opportunities. She improves to 16-5 on the season.


Halep Trumps Siegemund

Another player that seems to be moving into position to make a Roland Garros run is Romania’s Simona Halep. Halep notched her first win in three tries against Laura Siegemund, 6-4, 6-4, in a match that was dominated by the returner.

Both players won at least 50 percent of return points (Siegemund, 50, Halep, 58), but it was Halep that came through more often. She broke seven times on 14 opportunities. She has now won 23 of her last 27 on clay, with two of those losses coming to Siegemund.

Halep was down a break twice in the opener, but overcame and won the final two games to take it. In the second set she build a 4-1 lead before giving back the break and then breaking again for 5-3.

The fun wasn’t over yet. The pair would trade breaks one more time with Halep clinching her victory at the one-hour and 40 minute mark.

 

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