ROME – Elina Svitolina faced little resistance from Simona Halep in a 6-0, 6-4 win Sunday to defend her Italian Open title.
Just like in last year’s final, Halep appeared bothered by an injury.
The top-ranked Romanian called a trainer onto the court for an apparent back problem while trailing 2-3 in the second set then exited the court for treatment under a medical timeout.
“I was a little bit too stiff with my body and I couldn’t stay in the rallies,” Halep said. “The muscles were stiff. I couldn’t run.”
Last year, Halep rolled her ankle in the final and lost a set lead to Svitolina.
This time, Svitolina didn’t face a single break point in a match that lasted just 67 minutes.
“It’s amazing that I could come and defend my title here,” Svitolina said. “It’s really something very, very special for me.”
Halep said her physical problems were the result of a long three-set win over Maria Sharapova in the semifinals a day earlier
“Every time I play against Sharapova the ball is coming very flat and I bend down a lot,” Halep said.
The fourth-ranked Svitolina became the first woman to defend her title at the Foro Italico since Serena Williams accomplished the feat in 2013 and 2014. The Ukrainian picked up a winner’s check of 507,000 euros (nearly $600,000) for her 12th career title.
Svitolina improved to 4-2 in her career against Halep, who had already secured the No. 1 ranking for another week by reaching the semifinals.
“She deserved to win for sure,” Halep said. “She didn’t miss. I missed.”
Later, Rafael Nadal was aiming for a record-extending eighth Rome title against defending champion Alexander Zverev.
This is the last major warmup for the French Open, which starts next Sunday.
“In a Grand Slam it’s very tricky,” said Svitolina, who has never made it beyond the quarterfinals at a major. “But I’m definitely going to Roland Garros on a high note.”