Pliskova moves to No. 2 after Italian Open victory

Karolina Pliskova posing with her Italian Open trophy after beating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 in the final yesterday.
Karolina Pliskova posing with her Italian Open trophy after beating Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 in the final yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

ROME • Karolina Pliskova swept past Johanna Konta 6-3, 6-4 to win the Italian Open yesterday, clinching the third and biggest clay-court title of her career.

The tournament victory, her 13th on the WTA Tour, meant the Czech moved up five places to world No. 2 today, putting her in the frame before the French Open starts on May 26.

Pliskova recorded her seventh win in eight meetings with Konta in the final major warm-up tournament on clay ahead of Roland Garros and she believes "there will be a chance for me if I play this way".

Asked what were her chances of finally ending her Grand Slam duck, the 27-year-old, who will be the No. 2 seed at the Major, said: "I just hope I can take the tennis I was playing here to Paris and we'll see... but there's going to be some tough opponents who are playing good tennis on clay."

"It was a great week for me and my team.

"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."

This was Pliskova's most prestigious trophy since triumphing at Cincinnati in 2016, and it showed as she held an on-court celebration with newly-appointed coach Conchita Martinez, the 1994 Wimbledon champion, and the rest of her team.

While Konta had hopes of landing her maiden clay-court title after disposing of Major winners Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams as well as Madrid Open champion Kiki Bertens, she struggled to trouble her opponent on serve and did not drop a single service game.

However, the unseeded Briton remained upbeat, claiming "this is a big moment for me".

She added: "I'm pleased with how I've been progressing this year and how I've been improving with every match.

"To make it to a final here, this is my second biggest final after Miami."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2019, with the headline 'Pliskova moves to No. 2 after Italian Open victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe