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Swiatek demolishes Pliskova in Rome final

19-year old Iga Swiatek demolished Karolina Pliskova in the final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome on Sunday, dropping just 13 points the entire match as she delivered a double bagel to the former World No 1 in 46 minutes of breath-taking play.

From the beginning I felt that she may be a little bit nervous. I wanted to use that and actually play as many games with that vibe as I can. That’s why it was pretty fast at the beginning. I saw that because I thought her movement wasn’t really good, but I also had in my mind that she’s gonna start in a minute feeling better and being in a rhythm. So I wasn’t really focusing on that. Iga Swiatek

As one-sided as the match might appear, the teenager from Poland produced a stunning performance to control proceedings from the get-go and affording her more experienced Czech opponent almost no opportunity to get on the board.

Adding the Italian Open trophy to last year’s Roland Garros crown just two weeks ahead of starting her defence of her Paris title sends a strong signal to all other contenders, particularly as Swiatek enters the top 10 for the first time at No 9 this week.

“I’m really happy to win this tournament in Rome, it’s been a tough week from the beginning,” said Swiatek, who won her quarter-final and semi-final matches in straight sets on Saturday after they were postponed due to rain.

“I’m really happy I got through everything and I was really focused today, so I’m proud of myself.

“Now I’ve finally earned some tiramisu!”

Swiatek flew out of the blocks against Pliskova, the 2019 Rome champion who has made the final here for three consecutive years.

Oddly, the Czech opted to receive on winning the coin toss despite possessing one of the most potent serves on tour, perhaps hoping to catch the youngster cold and nervous.

It didn’t work, as Swiatek served with ruthless accuracy, winning more than 93% of points on her first serve, and converting 6 out of 8 break point opportunities to close out the win against a frustrated Pliskova, who had no answers on this day.


Karolina Pliskova had no answers to Iga Swiatek's pace and accuracy and was double-bagelled

© Filippo Monteforte/ AFPvia Getty Images

Pliskova was made to look slow and ponderous, and the Czech was down 6-0, 2-0 before she held a game point, reaching 15-40 on Swiatek’s serve, but she struck long on the first break point and a sharp crosscourt forehand from the Pole saved the second to slam the window of opportunity shut.

The 29-year-old Czech generally smothers opponents with pace and precision, and is more comfortable dictating play rather than retrieving but, against Swiatek’s distinct brand of spin and accuracy, she could not get herself going and became unglued.

She served up 2 double-faults in each of her first 2 service games and was out-gunned in most of the rallies, unable to find a Plan B to shift her tactics, offering no moon-balls, no variations in return position, sudden sorties to the net, slices, or drop-shots to stop the tsunami against her.

She was like a deer in the headlights, swiftly dazzled by Swiatek’s assault as the young Pole, who had saved 2 match points against Barbora Krejcikova in the 3rd round, made only 5 unforced errors, and struck 17 winners.

The tall Czech, however, could not find a winner until she was set point down after 19 minutes, and even cracking her racket frame after slamming it down on the court couldn’t kick-start the World No 9 into gear.

“I think she had amazing day and I had horrible day,” said Pliskova. “That’s one of those combinations which I guess can happen.

“I just was feeling horrible out there today. That’s one of those days.

“But I think she really made it extremely difficult for me to do any point and to play anything from my game. She was playing super fast. I thought she was just going for it.

“I had a couple, just a couple, of good shots, and I think she can just redirect so well and she can play even faster, and especially on clay.

“Because she has so much spin, I think it’s super tough to do something from it. Especially today she had amazing placement of the ball. Everything was super deep and just close to the lines.”

Swiatek, who lost 4 points in the first set and 9 in the second, faced only 4 game points against her as she registered her third career title and first at a WTA 1000 event.

“When my coach told me it was 6-0, 6-0, I was, like, Really? Isn’t that a mistake?” Swiatek said afterwards.

“When I was on the breaks, I was visualising that I’m starting that match from the beginning every time.

“Actually, I did that so well that I didn’t even know that it was 6-0 in the first set.

“The key is just to not to think about it and just, you know, play. Because when you’re gonna think about the score, you can actually ruin your mindset and ruin your attitude.

“From the beginning I felt that she may be a little bit nervous,” she added. “I wanted to use that and actually play as many games with that vibe as I can. That’s why it was pretty fast at the beginning.

“I saw that because I thought her movement wasn’t really good, but I also had in my mind that she’s gonna start in a minute feeling better and being in a rhythm. So I wasn’t really focusing on that.”


19-year old Iga Swiatek was near flaw-less on Sunday, losing just 13 points in the final against Karolina Pliskova to win Rome

© Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images

It was a stunning performance and one that demonstrated all of Swiatek’s talents, from her movement, pace and accuracy to her variety of spin as she sent one deadly drive after another, sharply angling her forehands and laser-ing her backhands.

Swiatek also served forcefully while she frequently attacked on returns, finding the brilliance of form that took her to the title in Paris last year.

Her third title overall after her triumphs at Roland Garros and Adelaide came on the back of one of the most dominant performances of the 19-year-old’s career as she delivered the first double bagel in the final of the Rome tournament and the most one-sided since Hungary’s Andrea Temesvari beat American Bonnie Gadusek 6-1 6-0 in 1983.

After capturing her second-biggest title, Swiatek jumps from No 15 to No 9 on Monday’s new WTA rankings as the 19-year-old becomes the second Polish woman ever to reach the WTA Top 10, after former No 2 Agnieszka Radwanska.

“I’m really proud of myself that I’m starting to be more consistent, because that was my goal from the beginning,” said Swiatek, who turns 20 at the end of the month. “I feel right now that I am doing huge progress in that matter, but it was a bit frustrating after French Open, because sometimes you can’t see the result of your work.

“Obviously winning a Grand Slam is great, but after that comes rankings, and this year it was different.

“So I’m really proud that I’m going to have in my resume that I’m Top 10, because I always wanted that.

“I also want to be consistent. So right now our goal is to keep me in that place and go further.”

Swiatek’s Top 10 debut is probably somewhat overdue because, under the revised WTA ranking system due to COVID-19, players only started dropping points in March, so it was harder for other competitors to move up until then.

Going into Rome, Swiatek had been stuck in the No 15-18 range for 7 months since winning Roland Garros despite some excellent results, including capturing a WTA 500 title in Adelaide in February prior to tacking on her first WTA 1000 title at the Foro Italico.


A general view of the scoreboard after Iga Swiatek's win over Karolina Pliskova in the Italian Open final on Sunday

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It was a stunning performance and one that demonstrated all of Swiatek’s talents, from her movement, pace and accuracy to her variety of spin as she sent one deadly drive after another, sharply angling her forehands and laser-ing her backhands.

Swiatek also served forcefully while she frequently attacked on returns, finding the brilliance of form that took her to the title in Paris last year.

Her third title overall after her triumphs at Roland Garros and Adelaide came on the back of one of the most dominant performances of the 19-year-old’s career as she delivered the first double bagel in the final of the Rome tournament and the most one-sided since Hungary’s Andrea Temesvari beat American Bonnie Gadusek 6-1 6-0 in 1983.

After capturing her second-biggest title, Swiatek jumps from No 15 to No 9 on Monday’s new WTA rankings as the 19-year-old becomes the second Polish woman ever to reach the WTA Top 10, after former No 2 Agnieszka Radwanska.

“I’m really proud of myself that I’m starting to be more consistent, because that was my goal from the beginning,” said Swiatek, who turns 20 at the end of the month. “I feel right now that I am doing huge progress in that matter, but it was a bit frustrating after French Open, because sometimes you can’t see the result of your work.

“Obviously winning a Grand Slam is great, but after that comes rankings, and this year it was different.

“So I’m really proud that I’m going to have in my resume that I’m Top 10, because I always wanted that.

“I also want to be consistent. So right now our goal is to keep me in that place and go further.”

Swiatek’s Top 10 debut is probably somewhat overdue because, under the revised WTA ranking system due to COVID-19, players only started dropping points in March, so it was harder for other competitors to move up until then.

Going into Rome, Swiatek had been stuck in the No 15-18 range for 7 months since winning Roland Garros despite some excellent results, including capturing a WTA 500 title in Adelaide in February prior to tacking on her first WTA 1000 title at the Foro Italico.

Swiatek now holds 2 of the 3 biggest clay-court titles on tour and makes her Top 10 debut, a reflection of not just her talent but her consistency after winning Roland Garros last autumn, since when she has played 7 tournaments and won 2 of them, while advancing to the Round of 16 or better in all but one.

She is now be focused on defending her title in Paris.

“I think it’s a good thing [Paris postponed by one week] because, always, we try to have some few days off before a Grand Slam to rest,” Swiatek told Courtney Nguyen for WTA Insider. “So I think that situation is perfect for me.

“Also I have some obligations to do at home, so we’re going to rest a little bit here. Then we’re going to come back home.

“I’m sure in Poland everything is is kind of crazy after my tournament here. We’re going to just come back to work and we don’t have actually time to chill.

“But I think that the French Open being postponed, it really gave me a lot because I can rest mentally and physically.

“Because even though that last match here was pretty quick and this tournament is actually really quick, I feel like I’m really mentally tired because of these first three matches and then adjusting to all of the scheduling.

“So I’m glad that we’re going to have a few days off.”


Sharon Fichman & Giuliana Olmos won the doubles title in Rome on Sunday, beating Kristina Mladenovic & Marketa Vondrousova in the final

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In the women’s doubles final Sharon Fichman & Giuliana Olmos notched the biggest title of their careers, saving 2 championship points en route to a stirring comeback victory over Kristina Mladenovic & Marketa Vondrousova, 4-6 7-5 [10-5] to claim the prestigious clay-court title.

The Canadian-Mexican pair, who started playing together this season, only made the main draw this week as alternates after Ash Barty & Jennifer Brady withdrew from the doubles event.

Fichman & Olmos had to stave off 2 championship points on Mladenovic’s serve at 5-4 in the second set, then reeled off the final 3 games of that set and the last 4 points of the match tiebreak to triumph after an hour and 35 minutes of play.

“We just really did such a good job of working together as a team this week,” Fichman said, in her post-match press conference. “I thought that in the important moments we really showed what we could do.

“We were super brave. We had a lot of fun.”

Fichman added: ”I guess it was kind of a fairy tale week in the sense we technically weren’t even in the tournament. We were so pumped to get in the draw when we were told that a team had withdrawn and that we’d be able to play.

“I think we just rode that momentum and excitement into the first round. You know, we just felt no matter what the situation was, no matter what the score was, we just kept swinging, kept fighting.”

Despite losing the final, France’s Mladenovic still returned to WTA Doubles World No 1 on Monday, replacing Elise Mertens.

It was also a career-best week in doubles for the Czech, Vondrousova, who reached her first-ever WTA doubles final.


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