WTA Rome: Elina Svitolina stuns Simona Halep to win her fourth title of 2017
Svitolina claims her second Premier 5 title of 2017 (Source: NurPhoto)

The Internazionali BNL d'Italia in the women's singles draw has come to an end. World number 11 Elina Svitolina, the eighth seed recovers from a set down to stun the sixth seed Simona Halep in two hours and seven minutes clash. The Ukranian will rise to a career-high ranking of number six and will be a top-five seed at the French Open. Svitolina, recovered from a set down to defeat the Mutua Madrid Open champion, who unfortunately rolled her ankle in the match.

Svitolina wins her fourth consecutive title in 2017 after winning the first Premier 5 title in Dubai, followed by titles in Taiwan and Istanbul, three weeks ago. The Ukranian denied Halep the chance to become the first player since Serena Williams in 2013 to win complete the Madrid-Rome double. Halep remains to see if her ankle injury is not serious ahead of the French Open where she is the favourite.

Halep shines in the opening set

The 22-year-old began the match on serve and was immediately under pressure. Halep gained a first break point chance and a backhand unforced error in the net from the Ukranian. However, a tame unforced error from Halep allowed Svitolina off the hook, and she saved the break point. A couple of more unforced errors springing from the sixth seed's racquet, allowed Svitolina to hold serve.

The Romanian held serve in the next following game building to a 40-0 lead but a couple of winners from Svitolina laid a statement of intent. Halep got her first game on the board with a forehand winner, dragging Svitolina around the baseline. Once more, the eighth seed was under pressure in her next service game with Halep getting two more break points but she was unable to convert any of them. The world number five would hold serve comfortably in her next service game to level the match at 2-2.

Inevitably, the sixth seed was able to break Svitolina's serve winning the long rallies, and a backhand unforced error handed Halep the break. The Romanian remained untroubled in her next service game extending her lead to 4-2. Svitolina was staring down the barrel in her next service game, as Halep was looking for the double break. The sixth seed got two more break points with a delightful drop shot, Svitolina saved one with a scintillating forehand winner down the line but the inevitably ensued with a forehand UF error in the net.

Halep falling over on her right ankle was the turning point this match (Photo by Michael Steele / Getty)
Halep falling over on her right ankle was the turning point this match (Photo by Michael Steele / Getty)

The Ukranian called on her coach at 2-5 down and it certainly helped. Halep was serving for the set but a backhand winner by Svitolina laid down a marker. However, the 2014 French Open finalist fell over on the next point with her right ankle locked into the clay. Halep was clearly bothered by it as Svitolina retrieved one of the breaks back.

Svitolina quickly re-applied the pressure to Halep by holding serve easily with an ace, and unforced errors continued to spew from Halep's racquet. The eighth seed reduced the deficit to one, trailing 4-5, nevertheless, Halep brought her coach Darren Cahill on, and she closed out the opening set to love in a 16-shot rally and unforced error from Svitolina.

Svitolina fights back to send the final into the decider

Svitolina opened proceedings once more in the second set and her serve continued to be under threat by Halep. A couple of unforced errors from the Ukranian, followed by a backhand winner down the line, handed two more break points for Halep. Svitolina came out on top in a baseline rally with a forehand winner down the line, however, the Romanian broke serve with a backhand winner down the line.

However, Svitolina immediately broke back with the Ukranian punishing the Romanian's poor drop shot with a forehand winner down the line to restore parity at 1-1. The eighth seed held to love leading 2-1, and she broke Halep to lead 3-1. Nevertheless, Halep broke back at the third time of asking with a backhand winner down the line, and Svitolina committing a backhand unforced error.

Svtiolina continues her good run of form heading into the French Open with two titles on clay (Photo by Gareth Copley / Getty)
Svtiolina continues her good run of form heading into the French Open with two titles on clay (Photo by Gareth Copley / Getty)

The former world number two levelled the second set at 3-3. However, Svitolina's first serve was working with a forehand winner down the line to lead 30-0. The eighth seed held serve with another unforced error springing for Halep's racquet. In the following game committed three unforced errors at 0-40. Svitolina's took the second break point to lead 5-3 and serve for the second set.

The Romanian was clearly bothered by her right ankle injury but she continued to threaten Svitolina and saved a set point with a forehand winner down the line. Halep gained a break point in a length rally, waiting for Svitolina to move. Nevertheless, Svitolina committed a double fault and a sublime passing winner down the line allowed Halep to break back and reduce the arrears to 5-4.

The former world number two held onto her serve in the next game, and Svitolina comfortably held to lead 6-5. Svitolina stepped up the ante in the next game with a backhand and forehand winner down the line, followed by a forehand unforced error handed the eighth seed another set point. Halep found a backhand winner in the corner as Svitolina slipped but a scintillating return, allowed Svitolina to take the match to a final set, 7-5.

Svitolina cruises in the final set to win her eighth career title

The Ukranian had the advantage in the final set by serving first in the opening set. Svitolina held serve in the opening game of the final set, and she immediately broke to love in the set with Halep committing back-to-back double faults to lead 2-0. Svitolina consolidated the break with good serving and forcing more errors from Halep, and Svitolina consolidated the break to lead 3-0.

The former world number two was clearly hampered by her right ankle injury, as she continued to commit more unforced errors with the 22-year-old Ukranian in cruise control in the final set with the double break, leading 4-0. Halep had the chance to break back but a serve out wide, and a backhand winner down the line from Svitolina wiped it out quickly. A service winner emphatically gave Svitolina a 5-0 lead.

The two finalists pose with their respective trophies (Photo by Tiziana Fabi / Getty)
The two finalists pose with their respective trophies (Photo by Tiziana Fabi / Getty)

Furthermore, Halep got on the board, constructing two good points with a forehand winner placed in the corner, and ace out wide from Halep, gave her a slight glimmer of hope. The in-form player of 2017 had some trouble serving for the biggest clay-court title of her career, she opened the game with a double fault, and Halep produced two scintillating winners at 15-30. However, an unforced error from the sixth seed and a good serve from Svitolina handed her a first championship point.

Halep saved it with a good return, punishing Svitolina's second serve to save the first championship point. A second one quickly followed with a smash forehand winner but another unforced error from Svitolina followed. However, a third championship point followed with a good first serve, and Svitolina clinched the title with a good first serve out wide. It was a remarkable comeback for Svitolina winning the match, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in two hours and seven minutes.

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