Svitolina lays down French Open marker in Rome

Rome: Elina Svitolina underlined her status as a top favourite for the French Open by sweeping Simona Halep aside 6-0, 6-4 to successfully defend her Italian Open crown on Sunday. In a repeat of last year’s final at the Foro Italico, Ukrainian Svitolina, seeded fourth, was up against Halep a day after the Romanian top seed had ousted Russian Maria Sharapova. But Halep’s hopes of overturning last year’s defeat to her 23-year-old opponent quickly evaporated in a completely one-sided encounter that saw the Romanian fail to produce a real challenge.

Svitolina, the world number four, has now successfully defended three career titles, in Baku, Dubai and also Rome; she also won in Brisbane and Dubai this season to take her 2018 title total to three. The win also marked Svitolina’s 12th career title on what was her eighth final in succession. “It was a really good match, from my side,” Svitolina said. “I dominated. I was trying to put lots of pressure on Simona with my game, tried to really take the ball early and open the court,” she added.