??? Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome FINAL preview + prediction
?? (1) Simona Halep vs. ?? (2) Karolina Pliskova
Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova will renew their rivalry when they meet for the 12th time with the Internazionali BNL d’Italia title up for grabs. Karolina Pliskova will be aiming to successfully defend her title in Rome whilst Halep will be hoping it’s third time lucky as she aims to win her first title in Rome on her third attempt in the championships match. A blockbuster match-up between the top seeds and a pair of former world number 1’s.
Simona Halep survived a strong challenge from Garbine Muguruza to secure her spot in the final. The Romanian secured a hard-fought 6-3 4-6 6-4 victory over the Spaniard in what was by far her biggest test of the tournament. Halep moved through the earlier stages with straight set wins over Jasmine Paolini and Dayana Yastremska as well as a win via retirement over Yulia Putintseva. Halep has now won 13 matches in a row and will playing to win her third consecutive title.
Karolina Pliskova started her title defense in Rome with a couple of straight set wins over Barbora Strycova and Anna Blinkova. Pliskova faced her biggest test at the quarter-final stage where she defeated the 11th seeded Elise Mertens 6-3 3-6 6-0. The second seed secured her spot in Monday’s championship match with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Marketa Vondrousova.
Halep holds a 7-4 head-to-head record over Pliskova. However, Pliskova has won 3 of the last 4 meetings between the pair, including a 6-0 2-6 6-4 victory in their most recent clash at the WTA Finals Shenzhen last year.
This has historically been a great match-up for Halep, I believe this to be true despite Pliskova’s recent success over the Romanian. Halep reads the Pliskova serve better than most, once Halep neutralizes the powerful first strikes of Pliskova it is Halep who has the distinct advantage from the baseline, especially on a clay court. Halep withstood a very strong challenge from Muguruza in the previous round, a challenge that will leave her primed for this final. Halep is in great form at the moment, likes this match-up and likes the conditions.