Karolina Pliskova will meet Iga Swiatek Sunday in the WTA Rome Masters final. Pliskova, who won the title in 2019, has made this final three straight years, but will likely go in as the underdog against the hot-handed Pol who won the French Open six months ago.
Today in the semifinals, Pliskova enjoyed a three-set win over former French quarterfinals Petra Martic 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
“I think the best start overall what I had this tournament,” Pliskova said. “Of course I could go double break up, but I think she was also on the other hand not playing that well the first set. I thought she was missing quite a lot.
“Overall I think quite solid. A bit too much frustrated in the second set, which took me like these couple games which I lost. I was just, like, too angry with myself which happens sometimes for not really any reason. I think I could do a bit better there.
“Other than that I think the first and third set, they were super solid for me, playing the game I want to play, not really going for crazy shots, but like super solid. Quite good serve today. So, yeah, I think was a good match.”
Pliskova came into the week struggling at just 10-8 on the year without a single semifinal until this week. For the former No. 1, it’s been a great week.
“It’s tough to say because doesn’t matter what I say now, I can still lose in Paris in first round,” Pliskova said. “No matter how good I feel now, it doesn’t really give you anything in the next couple weeks. You still have to work for it.
“But I hope I will feel better and maybe like more relaxed a bit to go to the other tournaments in the next couple weeks, months, with this kind of result, with having the matches I had this week, overcoming some situations which I had this week and beating some players, Martic, for example, I never beat on clay. For sure this gives me some strength.”
Iga Swiatek had a much busier day. Because of the rain yesterday, the 19-year-old had to win two matches, and she did just that. First beating Elina Svitolina 6-2, 7-5. Svitolina had twice won Rome in 2017-18, but never could sustain any momentum in the match.
Svitolina overcame a second set break but came up short in the end.
After a brief rest period, Swiatek was back on the court and she won again beating fellow-teen Coco Gauff 7-6(3), 6-3 in a first-time meeting.
The two traded breaks early on before Swiatek jumped out 6-1`in the breaker to gain control.
In the second set, it was all Swiatek who rolled out to 5-1 before Gauff mounted a late charge.
“I knew it’s going to be tough,” Swiatek said of her double-header. “Before my match with Elina, I wasn’t really thinking about what’s going to happen after. I was kind of searching for my game still, even though it was a quarterfinal. I just played with no expectations. She’s one of the best players in the world right now. I mean, I was just taking it step by step.
“I started worrying about semifinal right after I finished basically. Kind of mad that I couldn’t even celebrate one evening that I won. I told myself there’s nothing I can do about it, I have no influence.
“I tried to approach this in a positive way because I knew that I’m in a good rhythm and I’m playing really good tennis. I’m ready.”
Swiatek isn’t concerned with fatigue.
“I’m still kind of pumped up so it’s hard to say because adrenaline is still here,” she said. “I’m still pretty young so hopefully I’m going to be ready for tomorrow. I think so. I know it’s going to be a final, but I had a pretty fast first round. I feel like I’m okay with that.
“My practices had more intensity than these two matches. I know that my body is ready. If I’m going to take it well mentally, it’s going to be okay.”
Pliskova will seek her second Rome title, 17th of her career and first since Brisbane at the start of 2020. Swiatek has won 14 of her last 15 on clay as she bids for a third career title and a spot in the Top 10.
“We played each other on exhibition right at the beginning of COVID,” Swiatek said. “It’s hard to say actually because always exhibition is different than the real match. My coach is going to do a great job. As usual, I don’t have a lot to say because I’m not thinking about it right now. I’m after two matches, so I kind of have to rest from tennis for few years.
“I’m feeling pretty confident on court. If my game is going to be there tomorrow, I can do anything.”
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