Polish teenager Iga Swiatek crushed Czech ninth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0 to win the Italian Open on Sunday before the men’s 57th career showdown between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
The 19-year-old reigning French Open champion took just 45 minutes to dispatch the 2019 Rome winner two weeks before she opens her title defence in Roland Garros.
Swiatek, ranked 15, claimed her third WTA title having followed her Roland Garros success with a win in Adelaide in January.
“I’m overwhelmed, at the beginning of this tournament I would not have dreamed of winning it,” said an emotional Swiatek.
Swiatek swept through the first set in just 20 minutes, allowing Pliskova four points, dropping just 13 in total throughout the match.
Pliskova tried to fight back in the third game of the second set, holding a double break to win the third game, but the Polish player ruthlessly snuffed out any return.
“I will just quickly forget about today,” said Pliskova, the world number nine, who was playing in her third consecutive Rome final.
The former world number one retired injured in last year’s final while trailing 6–0, 2–1 to Romania’s Simona Halep.
“It’s definitely not the best day in the tournament for me, but congratulations she played very well.
“I’ve had some great matches here, in the past I did well.”
Ninth seed Pliskova was the only top 10 player left in the women’s tournament.
Halep, the third seed, retired with a calf injury. World number one Ashleigh Barty withdrew with a right hand problem, as a precaution before the French Open. Second seed Naomi Osaka, four-time Rome winner Serena Williams and Sofia Kenin, ranked fifth, and 10th ranked Petra Kvitova also exited early.
Swiatek eliminated fifth seed Elina Svitolina, a two-time Rome winner, in the quarter-finals before seeing off 17-year-old American Coco Gauff in the semis.
“I was able to beat Elina, so that shows that my game is here, I’m ready for anyone,” she warned.
“I’m surprising myself when I’m not doing well because I’m pretty ambitious.
“I’m a perfectionist, which I’m fighting with actually sometimes.
“I always try to learn from what other girls experienced.”
She next travels to Paris to defend her Grand Slam trophy.
“It’s not easy to be a defending champion.
“I can enjoy being there, just being in Paris because I love playing there. I’m not worrying about that.”
Later Sunday, world number one Djokovic, the defending champion, takes on nine-time Rome winner Rafael Nadal for the sixth time in the Italian Open final.
Djokovic and Nadal, who will be facing each other for the 57th time, last played in the 2020 French Open final which the Spaniard won in straight sets.
The pair have won 14 of the last 16 Rome titles between them. Nadal leads their head-to-head in finals in the Italian capital 3-2.
“It’s great to play him again in the final,” said five-time winner Djokovic.
“He’s the guy that I have encountered the most in my career, definitely my biggest rival of all time.”