Pliskova Clinches Rome Title

ROME, May 19, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)

Fourth seed Karolina Pliskova outsmarted and outplayed unseeded and World No. 42 Johanna Konta to clinch the title at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Sunday. Pliskova won in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 25 minutes.

A break of serve across each set helped Pliskova to stay ahead of her opponent, although she wobbled both while serving for the first set and, then when serving for the match. At 5-3 in the first set, Konta had her first – and only – break point of the match, but Pliskova saved it without losing her nerve before claiming the set. In the second set, both players held their serve up to the sixth game. However, as in the first set, Pliskova’s assault on Konta’s serve meant she gained the second break in the match, going on to consolidate it without any problems.

While serving for the match in the 10th game of the set, the former World No. 1 brought up two match points for 40-15 but was thwarted on both occasions. Konta’s chances of making a recovery in the match were squashed soon thereafter as Pliskova made no mistakes on her third match point to take the victory, and the Italian Open crown. The winners’ count did not separate the players much – with Pliskova hitting 21 winners to the Briton’s 19. The controlled aggression in Pliskova’s tactics was more evident in the fewer unforced errors she hit: a dozen fewer than Konta’s 26, which put the match firmly on her side of the court even when she seemed shaky.

“It was a great week for me and my team,” Pliskova said during the on-court trophy ceremony. “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, so that’s to be expected. It’s my first final in Rome, but hopefully not the last!”

This was Pliskova’s second title of the 2019 season, after the Brisbane International in January, and her 13th career title overall. This was also the first time since Regina Marsikova in the 1978 edition of the event that a Czech woman had won in the Italian capital.

Following her victory, Pliskova will gain five places in the WTA Rankings when they are updated on Monday and be ranked World No. 2. Also, she will be seeded second at the French Open.

Azarenka and Barty win women’s doubles title

Unseeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Ashleigh Barty of Australia, won their first doubles title as a team Sunday afternoon on Pietrangeli. They came back to defeat No. 8 seeds Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands, 4-6, 6-0, 10-3 to win. It was their fifth match win of the tournament in four days – plus both Azarenka and Barty were in the singles draw.

Last year, Barty and Schuurs won the Rome title together, but they were rivals this time as each attempted to defend their title. Azarenka and Barty needed just 71 minutes to win the title and it avenged a second-round loss to Groenefeld and Schuurs last week in Madrid.