No.15 seed Iga Swiatek was in ruthless form as she routed No.9 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0 in just 46 minutes in the Internazionali BNL d'Italia final.
Swiatek dropped just 13 points in total - four in the first set and nine in the second - and faced only four game points against her. The Pole picks up her third career title following Roland Garros last autumn and Adelaide in February, and the result ensures that she will break the Top 10 for the first time on Monday.
It was the first double bagel to decide the Rome title, and the most one-sided Italian Open final since 1983, when Andrea Temesvari defeated Bonnie Gadusek 6-1, 6-0. The last double bagel in a WTA final was Simona Halep's victory over Anastasija Sevastova at Bucharest 2016, and the last at 1000 level or above was Stefanie Graf's rout of Natasha Zvereva at Roland Garros 1988.
Not that Swiatek was aware, such was her focus on court.
"When my coach told me it was 6-0, 6-0, I was, like, Really? Isn't that a mistake?" she said afterwards. "When I was on the breaks, I was visualising that I'm starting that match from the beginning every time. Actually, I did that so well that I didn't even know that it was 6-0 in the first set... The key is just to not to think about it and just, you know, play. Because when you're gonna think about the score, you can actually ruin your mindset and ruin your attitude."
Today also marked the shortest completed WTA final since Istanbul 2009, when Vera Dushevina needed only 42 minutes to beat Lucie Hradecka 6-0, 6-1.
Double bagels in WTA finals since 2000
2006 Québec City, Marion Bartoli d. Olga Puchkova
2013 Sydney, Agnieszka Radwanska d. Dominika Cibulkova
2016 Bucharest, Simona Halep d. Anastasija Sevastova
2021 Rome, Iga Swiatek d. Karolina Pliskova
Swiatek had never before scored a double bagel win at pro level, though notably had defeated Pliskova's twin sister Kristyna 6-0, 6-1 to reach her first WTA final at Lugano 2019.
For Pliskova, it is just the second time in her career that she has failed to win a game in a completed match following her 6-0, 6-0 loss as a 17-year-old to Anna Korzeniak in the 2009 Latina-Nascosa ITF $10K quarterfinals. A former champion in Rome in 2019 playing her third consecutive final here, a leg injury had forced Pliskova to retire trailing Halep 6-0, 2-1 last year.
Swiatek raced out of the blocks and never let up, striking 17 winners to only five unforced errors over the course of the match. By contrast, a slow-starting Pliskova served two double faults in each of her first two service games, and did not find a winner until she was set point down after 19 minutes.
"From the beginning I felt that she may be a little bit nervous," said Swiatek. "I wanted to use that and actually play as many games with that vibe as I can. That's why it was pretty fast at the beginning.
"I saw that, because I thought her movement wasn't really good, but I also had in my mind that she's gonna start in a minute feeling better and being in a rhythm. So I wasn't really focusing on that."
Matters improved for Pliskova in the second set to the extent that she held two break points in the third game and two points to hold in the sixth. But Swiatek was not only in eviscerating form, able to take a stranglehold of rallies immediately and rarely faltering in finishing them off, but hungry for every game.
The 19-year-old swatted away every opportunity that Pliskova had to even get on the board with renewed focus, and brought up championship point with another brilliant forehand winner.
Swiatek's combination of heavy spin and pace had allowed her to exploit Pliskova's movement throughout the match, and she sealed victory as the Czech sent a forehand wide.
The 13 points Swiatek had conceded are the fewest in a 1000-level final. The previous record were the 24 points Serena Williams lost to Carla Suárez Navarro at Miami 2015.
"I think she had amazing day and I had horrible day," said Pliskova. "That's one of those combinations which I guess can happen.
"I just was feeling horrible out there today. That's one of those days. But I think she really made it extremely difficult for me to do any point and to play anything from my game. She was playing super fast. I thought she was just going for it.
"I had a couple, just a couple, of good shots, and I think she can just redirect so well and she can play even faster, and especially on clay. Because she has so much spin, I think it's super tough to do something from it. Especially today she had amazing placement of the ball. Everything was super deep and just close to the lines."
The result extends Swiatek's record in finals at all levels to an impressive 16-3 - 6-2 in juniors, 7-0 in ITF events and now 3-1 at WTA level. Swiatek also becomes the third player to win a title after saving match point en route in 2021, alongside Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open and Ashleigh Barty in Miami, having staved off two against Barbora Krejcikova in the third round.
The Krejcikova match, in which Swiatek struggled and only gradually found some form, was a turning point.
"Actually, it's a good way to call it like two phases of the tournament," Swiatek said. "At the beginning it was really, really hard. I actually wasn't thinking that it's gonna be enough - I'm not talking about winning the tournament - to even do a good result. But day after day I was feeling a little bit better and I just focused on that. I had good people around me that were telling me not to really worry and that sometimes it's the best idea not to care.
"I think playing yesterday two matches actually gave me more than it would usually, because I would get tired. But this time I was in a rhythm and I could feel that for three hours yesterday. So it gave me a lot of confidence."