Halep claims Rome title after Pliskova retires due to injury
Romania's Simona Halep celebrates celebrates with the trophy after Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova retired from the match after sustaining an injury in Rome on Monday.
The Romanian, who even shook off a hard fall in the second game, was at her aggressive and disciplined best while Pliskova looked sluggish with her on-court movement, failing to hit a single winner as she was bageled in 20 minutes.
Second-ranked Pliskova received treatment on her lower back and leg after Halep won the opening set.
The limited number of fans allowed into Foro Italico's centre court urged Pliskova to make it a contest, applauding the rare points she got on the scoreboard, and it seemed to work as the second set started with the pair breaking each other.
However, Pliskova was clearly struggling with an injury and the Czech opted to retire to give Halep her first title in Rome.
"I know that's not the way how Karolina wanted to finish the tournament and the final," Halep said at the trophy presentation ceremony. "Good luck in the French Open, hopefully we will meet again there in the final.
"Finally, after two finals I could win this title. I love this tournament and I'm really happy that I have this beautiful trophy in my hands now," she added, having lost the final in 2017 and 2018.
Victory gave Halep her third consecutive title of the year after winning in Dubai before the Covid-19 hiatus and then in Prague last month, as well as extending her winning streak to 14 matches.
She will head to Roland Garros as one of the firm favourites with world No 1 Ashleigh Barty and US Open champion Naomi Osaka both skipping the tournament this year.
Pliskova said she hopes to be ready in time for next week's French Open after feeling the niggle since her quarter-final victory over Elise Mertens.
"I have to see the doctor to see that it's nothing," she said. "I really want to be 100 per cent ready because if I want to go far in a Grand Slam, that's two weeks of tennis.
"I felt it from the match with Mertens and it was growing every day.â€
This morning I felt it was not really good and I was thinking if I should even play, but you still want to go and try even though it didn't look really good."