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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, September 21, 2020

Simona Halep

Simona Halep captured her first Rome title when reigning champion Karolina Pliskova, trailing 6-0, 2-1, was forced to retire with a left leg injury.

Photo credit: Internazionali BNL d'Italia Facebook

A bright week in Rome came to a bittersweet end.

Top-seeded Simona Halep captured her first career Rome title when reigning champion Karolina Pliskova, trailing 6-0, 2-1, was forced to retire due to an apparent upper left leg injury.

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Solidifying her status as the Roland Garros front-runner, Halep collected her third consecutive tournament title extending her winning streak to 14 matches. 

Halep raised her record to 20-2 on the season winning her 22nd career championship following title runs in Prague and Dubai.

It is Halep's ninth career clay-court crown, which equals Venus Williams for second-most among active players behind only 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who owns 13 career titles on dirt.

Clearly compromised from the outset, a hobbled Pliskova couldn't hang in extended rallies.

It was a bleak ending to a positive week for Pliskova, who had won 10 of her last 12 finals.

The second-seeded Czech was bidding to become the 11th different woman to defend Rome.

Wearing heaving taping around her left leg, Pliskova lacked explosive movement and struggled to get much lift on her serve. Halep broke in all five of Pliskova's service games.

Halep rolled through seven straight games meeting little resistance. The Romanian tightened up a bit with two double faults then watched Pliskova zap a forehand return winner down the line to finally get on the scoreboard trailing 6-0, 1-1.

That was a brief reprieve. After Halep broke back, an emotional Pliskova pulled the plug.

While questions clearly surround Pliskova's health and fitness for Roland Garros, which starts on Sunday. Halep rolls into Paris riding the momentum of successive clay-court titles.


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