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Djokovic wins record 36th Masters title in Rome; Halep claims crown

Djokovic wins record 36th Masters title in Rome; 
Halep claims crown

DPA
Rome
World number one Novak Djokovic claimed a record-breaking 36th Masters title in Rome on Monday after a 7-5, 6-3 triumph over Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman. 
The 17-time Grand Slam champion was a break down in both sets but recovered to win a fifth Italian Open trophy at the Foro Italico before the French Open starts on Sunday. 
“I couldn’t have asked for a better tournament in Rome before heading to Paris,” said Djokovic. 
“It was a very challenging week, I didn’t play my best tennis but I found it when I needed it in the decisive moments today.”
Top seed Simona Halep won her first ever Rome title at the third attempt after defending champion Karolina Pliskova retired from the final through injury with Halep leading 6-0, 2-1. 
Romania’s Halep raced through the first set with six straight games in 20 minutes as Pliskova struggled to move in the rallies with her left thigh heavily strapped up.  Pliskova says the injury was a result of sliding on the clay and playing long, late matches. 
“Yesterday I was already feeling like, okay, if this match goes like three sets, then it’s going to be very difficult,” said Pliskova. 
“But this morning and in the night I felt like it’s not really good.” Pliskova, the Czech world number four, was broken twice more in the three-game second set and with the French Open starting in six days, she decided to end the match after 31 minutes. 
Halep previously lost two Rome finals to Elina Svitolina in 2017 and 2018.
“Finally I won it,” said Halep after winning a 22nd career title.  “I had two finals. The start of my going up in the ranking was here in 2013. So I really dreamed to have this title.”  The former French Open champion will now travel to Roland Garros as the top seed, due to the withdrawal of world number one Ashleigh Barty. 
Pliskova will consult her doctor before she travels to France to contemplate her chances of playing. 
“I have to see the doctor just to see if it’s nothing like really that heavy kind of injury,” Pliskova explained. 
“Because if I want to go far in a Grand Slam, then it’s going to be, like, two weeks of tennis, which I’m not sure today I can do.”
Despite his defeat, Rome was a success for Schwartzman after he conquered Nadal on clay in the quarter-finals to ensure he will earn a top-10 ranking for the first time in his career. 
Schwartzman won three games in a row in the first set as Djokovic became increasingly irritated by the light rain that was effecting his strokes but the umpire insisted they continued playing.

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