Defending champion Karolina Pliskova must triumph in an all-Czech battle with Marketa Vondrousova if she is to make it back…
Defending champion Karolina Pliskova must triumph in an all-Czech battle with Marketa Vondrousova if she is to make it back to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia final.
Pliskova vs Vondrousova is live from Rome on Sunday 20 September, 4pm local/2pm BST
After a disappointing US Open swing, world no. 4 Karolina Pliskova has rebounded in style to reach the semifinals at the WTA Rome Premier-5, where she is the defending champion, and is now one match away from making her second final of 2020.
Standing in her way in Sunday’s semifinals is Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 French Open runner-up, who has also found form with a return to clay and is looking for her first win over her compatriot on this surface.
Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.
How to watch Pliskova vs Vondrousova live
WTA Rome matches including Karolina Pliskova vs Marketa Vondrousova are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.
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Pliskova vs Vondrousova: Head-to-head
Karolina Pliskova won the only previous match she played against Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 6-4, on hard courts in Miami in 2019.
Pliskova vs Vondrousova: Preview
The WTA semifinals at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia feature two French Open champions and three women who have been ranked world no. 1, one of them being Karolina Pliskova, and if Marketa Vondrousova has not so far cracked the top 10, she was a French Open finalist in 2019.
Pliskova has yet to get that far at Roland Garros but she was a semifinalist there in 2017 and has won WTA Tour titles on clay in Prague, Stuttgart and, of course, Rome where she defeated Johanna Konta in last year’s final.
The tall Czech started 2020 in style by capturing her 16th career title in Brisbane, but fell in the third round of the Australian Open to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and failed to win back-to-back matches in her next four events including the US Open and ‘Cincinnati’ – particularly galling as she was the only one of the WTA’s top 10 based outside of the USA to make the trip.
The return to clay seems to have done the trick, however. Pliskova didn’t have the toughest draw through the first two rounds, but she was up against a very in-form player in Elise Mertens in the quarterfinals and after taking the first set in solid fashion, ended up being taken to a third by the Belgian. Pliskova responded to her first real challenge of the week in impressive style, bagelling Mertens in the decider and closing out a 3-6, 6-3, 6-0 victory with a clean forehand winner down the line.
Mertens faded physically in the third set for sure; could this be a factor when Pliskova faces Vondrousova? The younger woman played a marathon against Polona Hercog in the third round which ended in a third-set tie-break very late at night, and although she appeared unaffected by the lack of sleep when she beat Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-0 on Saturday, these things often catch up with you later.
Vondrousova’s one-sided win over two-time Rome champion Svitolina was a triumph of the Czech’s trademark variety, completely bamboozling a Svitolina who’s not quite found her match sharpness yet (this was her first tournament since the shutdown). Vondrousova knows all about needing matches: Horrible luck for the Czech meant that her run to a maiden Grand Slam final at last year’s French Open was followed by a wrist injury which kept her out from Wimbledon until this January.
On the return, Vondrousova struggled to find her game and it’s really only in Rome that she’s begun looking like the player who made that Roland Garros final – before this week, she had won one match in her last seven tournaments.
When Vondrousova is playing well, however, it is an impressive sight. The 21-year-old is all about variety: Balls loaded with spin, drop shots, slices, lobs, anything to keep her opponents off-balance and off their rhythm. It could work very well against Pliskova, who doesn’t like getting low to the ball and whose movement, especially up and down the court, is her major weakness. The older woman did win their only previous match in straight sets, but on clay it should be closer. I think Vondrousova can push it to three.
Pliskova vs Vondrousova: Prediction