Svitolina wins biggest title of her career in Rome

Sunday, May 21

22-year-old Elina Svitolina defeated world no. 4 Simona Halep in a marathon 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 match to win the Internazionali BNL d’Italia title in Rome. The final lasted just over two hours.

Svitolina snapped Halep’s 10-match win streak in her title run.

Simona Halep started out the stronger of the two, jumping out to an early lead in the first set. The set could be best summarized by this 16-shot rally on set point. Halep’s quick feet and stellar defence make her known for these types of points.

However, those marathon rallies were short-lived.

Injury threatened both players in the latter stages of the second set – Halep rolling her ankle, Svitolina awkwardly pulling her groin.

Svitolina got an early break in the set to lead 3-1 but Halep got right back on serve in the following game. Svitolina had an opportunity to serve for the set at 5-3 but was broken. Halep was noticeably slower upon leveling the match at 5-5 and Svitolina was able to break for the second set.

Svitolina opened the third set with a hold to 30, followed by breaking Halep to love.

There was no way back for the Romanian who was visibly slowed down due to an ankle sprain. Svitolina fought through her own discomfort – groin – to win eight of the last ten games and the title.

For the match, Svitolina’s first serve percentage was at 71% and she was able to in 66% of those points. With 25 winners and seven breaks of serve, the Ukrainian grasped the biggest title of her career thus far.

The Rome title is Svitolina’s second clay title of the season, previously winning Istanbul earlier in May. She also holds titles in Taipei City and Dubai. Svitolina has won eight titles in her career to date, going back to 2013. She’s won at least one title per year for the past five seasons.

Halep has made the semi-finals or better in the three clay tournaments she’s played leading up to Roland Garros: Stuttgart, Madrid (champion) and Rome. After a rough start to the season, Halep’s best results have come in the past few weeks on clay.

If healthy, Svitolina and Halep are favourites to make runs at Roland Garros.