Back on top: Nadal beats Djokovic for 9th Italian Open title


Johanna Konta will face Karolina Pliskova in the final of the Italian Open after battling past Kiki Bertens 5-7 7-5 6-2 in Rome.

Pliskova has hit a combined 25 aces in her last three matches, and when she's hitting her spots like that, she's one of the tougher players on tour to beat.

The next game witnessed multiple deuces and the Czech committed numerous unforced errors, with Konta failing on the volley, Karolina Pliskova consolidated her break to take a 5-3 lead in the championship match.

In Sunday's final, Nadal will resume his rivalry with top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who faced an unusually high number of drop shots from Diego Schwartzman before winning 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-3. She plays with big shots, quite flat, and big serves. "I was a little bit nervous today, but it was the final, so that's to be expected", she added during the trophy ceremony. The Czech player recently announced she promoted four-time Italian Open champion Conchita Martinez as her head coach. Then she was within two points of the win in the second but this time she couldn't close the door.

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.

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However, despite saving three break points, she was unable to fend off Pliskova a fourth time as the Czech made what proved to be a decisive move.

Konta forced her to serve it out, too, and then saved two match points before Pliskova sealed the deal to claim her second title of the year, and her first on clay, 6-4. But Bertens double faulted to let Konta serve for the second set and Konta got an early break in the third.

"On clay, I was just hoping for some matches, maybe couple, but not for this much".

Pliskova has also reached the Australian Open semi-finals and the Miami Open final in 2019 after opening this season with a title in Brisbane.

I like Pliskova to win her second title of the year.