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'I'm super happy', Karolina Pliskova claims biggest clay-court title after victory over Johanna Konta in Rome

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 19 May 2019
  • Karolina Pliskova eased past Johanna Konta 6-3 6-4 in Rome to claim her biggest clay-court title
  • Second title of the season for Pliskova, 13th of her career
Karolina Pliskova (Photo Andrea Staccioli / Insidefoto/Sipa USA)

Karolina Pliskova claimed her biggest clay court title on Sunday when she eased past Great Britain's Johann Konta 6-3 6-4 in the final of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

Pliskova's previous clay-court titles had come at the International level tournament in Prague in 2015, and the Premier event in Stuttgart last season, but she claimed her maiden Premier-5 tournament on the surface on Sunday with a convincing victory over Konta.

The Czech has now won two titles this season, adding to the success she had in Brisbane earlier in the year, and is up to 13 WTA titles for her career.

“It feels great, especially since nobody really gave me a chance for this tournament, even, I think, me," Pliskova said after beating Konta on Sunday. "Before the tournament, I was not super confident, not thinking about the final at all. I was just happy with every match I played”.

Pliskova had put together an excellent hard-court season, reaching at least the quarter finals in all five tournaments she played in the opener quarter of the year, including winning Brisbane, reaching the final in Miami, and the semi-finals at the Australian Open, but she initially struggled with the switch to clay, going 1-2 between Stuttgart and Madrid. She has played herself back into form in Rome, beating Ajla Tomljanovic, Sofia Kenin, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sakkari, and now Konta to claim the title.

Konta had been surprisingly good clay- traditionally her least productive surface- in the last few weeks, finishing runner-up to Maria Sakkari in Rabat, and making the Rome final, beating Sloane Stephens, Venus Williams and the in-form Kiki Bertens in the process, but she never really got going against Pliskova, committing a host of unforced errors in the hour and 25 minutes defeat.

Pliskova's serve was in excellent order, especially in the first set, when she served at 86%, and won 75% of points on both her first and second serves. 

Konta, by contrast, looked nervous from the start, sending down a double fault to gift Pliskova an immediate break point in her opening service game, and giving up the break after dumping a backhand into the net.

Pliskova promptly held for a 3-0 lead, and she controlled the set from there until she stepped up to serve for the opener. A double fault at 30-30 gave Konta her first break point of the match, and the Brit should really have taken it, but she sent an easy forehand winner into the top of the net. Pliskova made the most of that let off and went on to close out the set.

The first six games of the second set went with serve, but Pliskova ramped up the pressure in the seventh game. Three break points came and went, but the Czech would not be denied, swinging away a volley on her fourth opportunity to get the break, and take a stranglehold on the match. She closed out the win a few games later, taking the title on her third match point.

“…it's little bit like a miracle for me because clay, this tournament, since I haven't played well here, and on clay it's always tough. I played some good clay court girls. Of course, I'm super happy."

The Czech has now set her sights on a deep run at Roland Garros, where she was a semi-finalist in 2017.

"I want to put 100% into it (the French Open) and to give myself a chance to go deep in the tournament. Of course, everything starts in the first round. You can have tough opponents. It doesn't mean that I won here, so I have to go far in Paris. There is still seven matches, so it's two more than here."

The French Open begins on Sunday, 26 May.

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"I'm super happy", Karolina Pliskova claims biggest clay-court title after victory over Johanna Konta in Rome

Karolina Pliskova claimed her biggest clay-court title after victory over Johanna Konta in Rome

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