Czech fourth seed Karolina Pliskova swept past Britain’s Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 to win the WTA Italian Open on Sunday. Pliskova, the 2017 French Open semi-finalist, clinched her 13th career title, in the final major warm-up tournament on clay before Roland Garros starts on May 26.
A break in each set was enough for former world number one Pliskova to get past Konta, sealing victory on her third match point after 85 minutes on court. “It was a great week for me and my team,” said the 27-year-old, now coached by former Rome champion Conchita Martinez.
“There were a couple of tough matches so I was happy to fight through them. I was a little bit nervous today, but it was the final in Rome, so that’s to be expected.”
Top seeds Naomi Osaka and Petra Kvitova pulled out injured during the event, while Roland Garros champion Simona Halep crashed out in her opening match in Italy. Four-time Rome winner Serena Williams also withdrew before the second round as her return after a two-month layoff was cut short when her knee injury flared up.
Pliskova, the highest remaining seed, got an early break in the final and swept 3-0 up in just eight minutes on the red clay of the Foro Italico. A double fault when serving for the set handed Konta a break point but the British no 1 squandered the chance with a smash into the net with the entire court open to her.
Konta then hit a weak forehand shot into the tape and the ball bounced wide, allowing Pliskova to wrap up the first set in 36 minutes.
Pliskova broke in the seventh game of the second set, despite Konta saving two break points, with the Czech number world number seven powering through for the biggest title of her career since Cincinnati in 2016.
She becomes the first Czech woman to win the Rome tournament since Regina Marsikova in 1978. In the men’s competition, world number one Djokovic – winner at the Madrid Open last weekend – will meet defending champion and eight-time winner Rafael Nadal.
It will be the 54th clash between the world’s top two men’s players who have won 12 of the last 14 Rome titles between them.