ROME, Italy -- Make it ten straight wins for Elina Svitolina in Rome, as the defending champion from Ukraine coolly dispatched World No.1 Simona Halep of Romania, 6-0, 6-4, to win her second straight Internazionali BNL d'Italia title on Sunday.
"It was a really good match from my side. I think I dominated all the match. I was trying to put lots of pressure on Simona with my game, tried to really take the ball early and to open the court," Svitolina told the media, following the match.
"It worked really good today," Svitolina continued. "I was feeling good, and I think it was good match for me."
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No.4 seed Svitolina picked up her fourth win in six meetings against top-seeded Halep, as she repeated her victory over the Romanian in last year's final, but this time in a swift 67 minutes. The Ukrainian had 18 winners to 14 unforced errors on the day, and never faced a break point during the contest.
It is Svitolina's 12th career title, and her third of the season after hoisting trophies at the Brisbane International and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Svitolina now has an impressive 12-2 record in WTA finals, and owns four wins over World No.1 players during her burgeoning career.
"[Svitolina] was solid," Halep told the press, after the match. "She is solid every time I play against [her]. So it was a good match made by her, and she deserved to win, for sure.”
“I think I was a little bit tight and the muscles were a little bit stiff," Halep continued. "I couldn't run. Because I knew that I have to run in this match. I didn't start well. Maybe I was rushing a little bit. She didn't miss. I missed in the first set. But then the match was a little bit better, and it's good that I could finish strong.”
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The opening set was all Svitolina, as the defending champion was in dominant form. The No.4 seed was unimpeachable on serve, winning 86 percent of first-service points and only dropping three points on her delivery in the set.
Halep, by contrast, struggled with unforced errors throughout the opening frame, hitting 11 in the set, to only two winners. The die was cast in the first game, where Halep dropped serve after punching a forehand miscue into the net, and the World No.1 never recovered from there.
Svitolina broke for 3-0 with a tremendous forehand winner on break point, and then raced through a love service game to roll to 4-0. In the next game, a backhand drop shot for a winner on break point gave Svitolina her third consecutive break of Halep and a 5-0 advantage, and the Ukrainian calmly served out the bagel set to extend her winning streak.
Halep regrouped in the second set, finally getting on the board with a hold of service in the first game. The Romanian also truly got herself into a Svitolina service game for the first time, pushing the Ukrainian to deuce at 1-0, but Svitolina steeled herself to hold for 1-1, as the match became more competitive.
The following game was crucial, as Halep reached 40-30, but a superb backhand service return down the line by Svitolina erased the game point. A lengthy rally at deuce was won by Svitolina with a forehand winner, after Halep failed to keep a putaway out of the Ukrainian’s reach earlier in the point. Halep then blasted a backhand wide in the next point to give Svitolina a pivotal break lead at 2-1.
That would turn out to be the decisive game of the match, as Svitolina continued to doggedly chase down everything Halep threw at her, extending points with her tremendous defense and coming up with solid, well-placed serves when games got dicey.
To her credit, Halep continued to fight, and escaped a tricky deuce game at 5-3 by hitting a forehand winner to reach game point, and following with a screaming backhand winner down the line to hold for 5-4. But the Romanian’s inability to ever see a break point during the encounter cost her dearly, and Svitolina served out the match in the next game to emerge as the queen of Rome once more.