Halep claims Rome title after Pliskova retires

9/21/2020 10:37:06 AM EST

No. 1 seed Simona Halep captured her first Internazionali BNL d'Italia title Monday in Rome as defending champion and No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova retired in the second set due to a left thigh injury.

Halep was leading 6-0, 2-1 at the time. The 28-year-old Romanian swept the first set in 21 minutes, winning 13 out of 14 points -- and 11 in a row -- during one dominant stretch.

Pliskova, 28, of the Czech Republic, sought medical treatment before the second set. After the pair exchanged three straight service breaks to open the set, Pliskova decided she couldn't continue.

Clearly hampered by the injury, Pliskova made 16 unforced errors, double-faulted four times and lost all five of her service games in the match. Halep finished with nine winners and just five unforced errors.

Halep is on a 14-match winning streak, including her victory at the Prague Open after the tour's resumption from the coronavirus-induced shutdown.

"I've finally won it," said Halep, a finalist in the Italian capital in 2017 and 2018. "I love this tournament, and I play well here almost every year. ... I've always dreamed of having this title. I'm really happy that it happened today."

Halep, who had lost three of their previous four meetings, improved to 8-4 lifetime against Pliskova.

Pliskova said she began feeling the injury during her quarterfinal win against Belgium's Elise Mertens on Saturday.

"I hope to be ready for Roland Garros," Pliskova said of the upcoming French Open, which starts this Sunday. "There's still a week, so I think that's plenty of time. ... I have to see a doctor to make sure it's not too severe of an injury. I think it's from playing so many tough matches in a row."

Internationaux de Strasbourg

Japan's Nao Hibino upset No. 8 seed Sloane Stephens 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 in the first round in Strasbourg, France.

In a match that saw a combined 34 break points for the players, Hibino broke serve nine times and took advantage of 11 double faults by the 2018 French Open finalist.

Among other seeded players in action, No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus defeated Australia's Ellen Perez 6-4, 6-3, No. 5 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan defeated Belgium's Greet Minnen 7-5, 6-4, and No. 7 Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia crushed Australia's Storm Sanders 6-1, 6-0.

--Field Level Media

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