Halep to take on Pliskova for Rome glory

Top seed Simona Halep will face reigning champion Karolina Pliskova in an intriguing final match-up at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Monday.

The Italian Open final is familiar territory for both players. The Romanian reached the title decider in 2017 and 2018, losing to Elina Svitolina on both occasions, while Pliskova triumphed on her first appearance in the last two here last year.

The world No.4 has won her last nine matches at the Foro Italico and looks to be turning her season around in Rome, this week marked the first time she has won back-to-back matches since the Australian Open. Halep is also on a winning streak, having won her last 13 matches, a run which takes in the titles in Dubai and Prague, and she is desperate to add the Rome title to her trophy cabinet.

It’s Halep who holds the head-to-head advantage, leading 7-4, but they have split their two clay court meetings. The world No.2 prevailed in the third set of their 2018 Roland Garros semi-final and the Czech won their 2018 Madrid quarter-final in straight sets.

“I mean, we had a lot of good matches and started — I think the first match when I beat her was in Fed Cup in Romania. The surface was super slow. Then somehow the belief started pretty much there. And then of course Paris, in the end I was, like, okay, I almost won. Like, I was still far away but it was super-close match. Then she was playing great that tournament, and always she’s playing great in Paris,” said Pliskova.

“That kind of helped me just to believe that even on clay I can beat her, even though it’s like her surface, not mine. Of course I beat her in Madrid and couple times. Still I was able to play good tennis on clay. So it’s going to be super tough because she’s fighting. She won tournament in Prague. Now she’s back in the final here. I think it’s never going to be easy with her no matter which tournament it is. It’s going to be great final.”