Halep wins Italian Open, Pliskova forced off early with injury

Rome, Sep 21 (efe-epa).- Simona Halep won the Italian Open on Monday after title-defender Karolina Pliskova was forced to retire through injury just 31 minutes into the women’s final.

The Romanian world No2 was winning 6-0, 2-1 before the Czech player decided to concede defeat early.

The 2020 Italian Open is Halep’s 20th career title, and her third this year following victories in Dubai and Prague.

Halep eliminated Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza in the semi-finals and with the final in the bag she extended her winning streak to 14 this season.

Having lost her last two Italian Open finals to Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, Halep started the match with intensity and took the first set in around 20 minutes in straight games.

Pliskova had beaten Halep in their two previous meetings — in Miami and the WTA finals — but was unable to get into the game at all and her injuries were visibly limiting her movement.

At the end of the first set the Czech player spoke with her doctor about a persistent problem with her lower back before returning to the court.

The 2018 champion broke Halep’s serve and was able to win her only game of the match to make it 1-1 in the second set. She lost the next game and decided she was unable to continue.

She congratulated Halep but was visibly emotional when sitting on the bench for having been unable to defend her title in Rome.

Halep heads into Roland Garros, which she won in 2018, as an obvious favorite this year.

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