Third time lucky for Halep

Simona Halep added the Internazionali BNL d’Italia title to her trophy cabinet, prevailing in the final after defending champion Karolina Pliskova was forced to retire at 6-0 2-1.

Halep has now won the last three tournaments she has contested, having also lifted the trophy in Dubai and Prague, and this victory extended her winning streak to 14 matches.

“Yeah, finally I won it. I love this tournament, and every year actually I played really well. Not last year, but the year before. I played really well. I had two finals,” said Halep. “The start of my going up in the ranking was here in 2013. So I really dreamed to have this title. I’m really, really happy that it happened today.”

The Romanian was in flying form from the outset, playing flawless tennis as she romped through the first set in 20 minutes. Pliskova couldn’t match her opponent for intensity and was struggling to push up on her serve – one of her biggest weapons – so was no match for the top seed who won 13 of 14 points – and 11 in a row – as the set neared its end.

The second set began with an exchange of breaks and there was hope that the treatment the Czech had received on her lower back at the end of the first set had made a difference. She was broken immediately back however and that break proved decisive, Pliskova walking to her opponent and ending the match after 32 minutes.

It was third time lucky for Halep who had reached the Italian Open final twice before, losing to Elina Svitolina in 2017 and 2018 while the world No.4 was unable to retain her title, the defeat ending her nine-match winning streak in Rome.

“I have to see the doctor just to see if it’s nothing like really that heavy kind of injury. But I hope not, but of course I think it’s combination of just playing now every day and tough matches,” said Pliskova. “Yeah, although I’m sure it didn’t look really good, but, yeah, that’s was my decision. Huge credit to Simona. If there is somebody else, maybe it would be like still possible, but she doesn’t give you much for free. I would have to be really 100% ready.”