Pliskova and Konta to duel for title

Karolina Pliskova will take on Johanna Konta for the chance to lift the trophy at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Sunday.

The two players have met seven times before but it’s the Czech who holds the advantage, having won six of their previous meetings, including their only match-up on clay at Prerov in 2011.

The No. 4 seed reached the quarter-finals or better in her first five tournaments of 2019, a streak which took in the title at Brisbane, but her form had dipped over recent week as she battled with wrist injuries and a virus.

She has looked back to her best this week at the Foro Italico, cruising to victory in her opening round match against Ajla Tomljanovic, battling back from a set down to defeat both Sofia Kenin and Victoria Azarenka, and looking impressive when overcoming the in-form Maria Sakkari in straight sets in the semi-finals.

“I think she [Konta] is improving now, so she’s for sure back at the level where she was. Of course she’s final in this tournament, so she has to play good tennis,” said Pliskova, who has won two titles on clay during her career.

“Last couple weeks I felt like she was playing well, I don’t know where, but I think she was winning quite lot of matches. Of course, she’s going to be confident. I’m going to be the one with the papers who should win, and also the head-to-head is much better for me.”

Konta has also recorded notable victories this week, taking out Alison Riske and Grand Slam champions Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams before upsetting Madrid winner Kiki Bertens.

The Brit had a slower start to the season but has come into her own in the last few weeks. She has backed up her final showing in Rabat earlier this month, the first time she had reached a clay court final, and put herself in with a shot at a first clay title again this week.

“Karolina’s been at the top of the game for years now. She’s able to perform on all surfaces. She’s able to really show up to every match. She’s very difficult to play in that sense because she has a big serve, she has big shots, but she’s also backing it up with being incredibly astute on court,” said Konta.