WTA Rome: Karolina Pliskova overcomes Johanna Konta to claim title
Karolina Pliskova captured the 13th title of her career in Rome, beating Johanna Konta (Getty Images/Clive Brunskill)

Karolina Pliskova established herself as one of the main contenders for the French Open title on Sunday, with the Czech overcoming in-form Johanna Konta to capture her 13th career title at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Konta came into the final just a few weeks after making her first ever final on the surface in Rabat, and after beating the likes of Sloane Stephens and Kiki Bertens this week, though could not overcome the former world number one today, with Pliskova too strong for the Brit as she claimed a 6-3, 6-4 victory in an hour and 25 minutes to win the biggest title of her career on clay.

Pliskova too strong on serve as Czech builds strong French Open case

Though clay is arguably her weakest surface, Pliskova has had some success on the surface in the past, with a French Open semifinal and two previous clay court titles, though today showed further improvement under the tutelage of new coach Conchita Martinez to capture one of the biggest titles of her career.

Pliskova and Konta before the final (Getty Images/Clive Brunskill)
Pliskova and Konta before the final (Getty Images/Clive Brunskill)

Konta had started slowly against Kiki Bertens in her semifinal, and that proved to be the case again today, as an early break saw Pliskova storm into a 3-0 lead in less than ten minutes. Though the Brit, unseeded in Rome, was able to steady herself after this, she was rarely able to threaten the fourth seed, who looked extremely comfortable on serve. Pliskova was tested serving for the set at 5-3, though ultimately saved a break point to close it out.

The Czech looked to build momentum straight away at the beginning of set two, though could not convert a break point in the opening game, and following this the opening stages of the set were fairly uneventful, with both women looking comfortable on serve. However, Pliskova cranked up the pressure in the seventh game, converting a fourth break point in what proved to be the decisive blow. Though Konta held her next service game, and applied pressure on both Pliskova’s service games, the Czech held firm and converted a third match point to claim her second title of 2019.

Pliskova cemented her place as one of the favorites for the French Open title with this victory (Getty Images/Clive Brunskill)
Pliskova cemented her place as one of the favorites for the French Open title with this victory (Getty Images/Clive Brunskill)

By winning in Rome, Pliskova becomes just the third women this year, following Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens, to win multiple WTA singles titles in 2019, and has arguably put herself alongside the likes of Kvitova and Bertens as one of the favourites for the French Open, which starts a week today. Her run this week means she’ll rise to second in the rankings, behind Naomi Osaka, and will be the second seed in Paris.

Meanwhile, an impressive run to the final sees Konta rise back into the top 30 after starting the week ranked 42nd, meaning she will now be seeded at the second slam of the year.