Kontaveit collars Venus for second straight week in Rome

For the second week in a row, Anett Kontaveit has evicted No.8 seed Venus Williams from a Premier tournament - and this time round it was a much more straightforward affair as she progressed to the Internazionali BNL d'Italia quarterfinals for the second consecutive year 6-2, 7-6(3) in one hour and 19 minutes.
In Madrid last week, the Estonian had to come from a set down to score her maiden win over her illustrious opponent 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 - her fourth career Top 10 win. There was no need for that this week as Kontaveit zoomed out of the blocks with a lightning-fast start, and ultimately pounded 26 mighty winners - almost double her 14 unforced errors.
Hurling herself into her backhand, in particular, with abandon, Kontaveit's thunderous groundstrokes were fully dialled in as she clubbed winners from all corners of the court in every direction. The backhand down the line was the 22-year-old's money shot early on, but a stunning forehand pass off a full-pelt Williams swing volley drew gasps - and, on her second break point, Kontaveit cleverly switched things up to rocket her backhand crosscourt to seal the lead.
Currently perched at a career high of No.26, Kontaveit played with the boundless confidence of someone in the form of their life. When Williams began to make incursions into the Kontaveit serve in the sixth game, the Stüttgart semifinalist responded by wheeling out an exquisite dropshot, her first ace of the day and a scorching backhand winner down the line, struck from well outside the tramlines.
Piling the pressure on even further, Kontaveit attacked Williams's subsequent service game with relish, landing clean return winners off both wings and yet another magnificent backhand down the line before the American conceded the double break with a double fault.
Matters were more complicated in the second set. The former World No.1 responded with a champion's heart, and a flurry of forehand winners reminded her younger rival just who has been a prime exponent of power tennis for two decades.
But though the 37-year-old built herself a 3-0 lead, she continued to play with fire by feeding the Kontaveit backhand - and eventually got burned. Consecutive return winners once again paved the way for a break of the Williams serve in the fifth game.
Thereafter, the two players went toe-to-toe in a high-quality display of aggressive tennis, a run of seven games without a break point faced being highlighted by a delicate Williams dropshot to seal the seventh game and back-to-back aces for Kontaveit in response to serving to stay in the set.
But in the ensuing tiebreak, it was last year's 's-Hertogenbosch champion who stepped her game up. A superb rally on the first point, one of the longest of the match, was finished with a flourish - a backhand down the line, naturally - and thereafter Kontaveit ran away with the deciding game.
Three service winners and a gigantic backhand return winner helped build a 6-0 lead - and though the seven-time major champion valiantly staved off two match points, a third was too much.
With last week's triumph emphatically underlined, Kontaveit moves through to her second Rome quarterfinal to face either No.2 seed Caroline Wozniacki or No.15 seed Anastasija Sevastova.