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Konta's hopes of clay court glory thwarted at final stage in Rome

 

So close: Johanna Konta (left) with winner Karolina Pliskova
So close: Johanna Konta (left) with winner Karolina Pliskova

By Eleanor Crooks

Johanna Konta is still searching for the first clay court title of her career after a straight sets defeat to Karolina Pliskova in the final of the Italian Open in Rome.

The British number one admitted she was never given a look-in by her Czech opponent as she fell to a 6-3 6-4 defeat just two weeks after also finishing runner-up in Morocco.

Konta said: "I just thought she (Pliskova) didn't really have a let-down in the whole match.

"She played very consistently. I found it quite hard to get a footing, which is credit to her.

"She plays with big shots, quite flat, and big serves. It can feel sometimes like you are fighting an uphill battle, and that was the case today."

Nevertheless Konta, who turned 28 on Friday, will take plenty of positives from her unexpectedly strong clay court season ahead of this month's French Open, in which she is yet to win a main draw match in four attempts.

Konta's semi-final victory over Kiki Bertens had marked the Briton's first victory over a player ranked in the top five since beating Simona Halep at Wimbledon in 2017 but her hopes of repeating the feat against Pliskova eroded as the Czech showed her class.

• Rafael Nadal claimed his ninth Italian Open title as he beat Novak Djokovic in three sets.

The defending champion triumphed 6-0 4-6 6-1 in two hours and 25 minutes in Rome.

It was the 54th meeting between world number two Nadal and one Djokovic, and the first in which either player had won a set without conceding a game.

Nadal's first title of year was a record 34th ATP Masters 1000 crown for the Spaniard as he moved one clear of Djokovic, ahead of next week's French Open. Djokovic leads their head-to-head record, 28 wins to 26.

Since 2005, Nadal has won at least one of the nine Masters 1,000 events in a season every year except 2015.

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