The second women's semifinal of the day at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia saw eighth seed Elina Svitolina book her spot in the final after third seed Garbiñe Muguruza, unfortunately, retired due to a stiff neck, despite having her thigh strapped. However, it was the sensible decision for Muguruza as she begins the defence of her French Open title next week.
Nevertheless, Svitolina will play the in-form Mutua Madrid Open champion Simona Halep, who won the first semifinal after beating Kiki Bertens on Campo Centrale. The 22-year-old will be looking to snap Halep's ten-match winning streak when they meet in the final tomorrow. Svitolina is 3-0 in finals in 2017, and she will return to the top 10 on Monday and could rise to a career-high ranking of six if she claims the clay court title in Rome.
Svitolina books her spot in the final via retirement
The 2015 French Open quarterfinalist elected to serve and it proved to be a sensible decision. Svitolina served out the opening game to love, capping the game off with a blistering backhand winner down the line. The French Open champion also held serve comfortably, levelling the opening set at 1-1. Svitolina remained untroubled on serve in the next game, bossing the rallies, however, she was gifted points with the Spaniard committing unforced errors.
The former world number two had problems in her next service game as she quickly found herself at 0-30 down. She won the next point by virtue of a forehand unforced error springing from Svitolina's racquet.
Once again, Muguruza committed an unforced error, handing the eighth seed two break points. Fortunately for Muguruza, she was let off the hook temporarily with good play, and Svitolina missing a sitter of a forehand down the line. The inevitable occurred with the third seed's backhand continuing to break down as Svitolina converted her third break point chance with Muguruza, trying to find a forehand winner down the line but missing the court.
In the next game, the reigning French Open champion had the chance to break back, and she started the game with a statement of intent. She started the game aggressively, returning Svitolina's serve with a scintillating backhand winner in the corner. Furthermore, the Ukranian's good serving dug her out of a mini crisis levelling the game at 30-30. Muguruza remained aggressive, coming to the net and Svitolina missing a passing shot which gave the Spaniard a break point to immediately break back.
The eighth seed found her first serve to force the error from last year's semifinalist to save the break point. The third seed found another return backhand winner down the line and created another chance to break. Svitolina snuffed it out with a backhand winner in the corner of the court with intent, and a couple of forehand winners back-to-back consolidated the break for the Ukranian to lead 4-1.
Unfortunately, the French Open champion couldn't continue as she called on the trainer, and she injured her neck in a training session this morning and in 22 minutes, Svitolina booked her place in her biggest clay court final against sixth seed Simona Halep.
Muguruza spoke to the press in her post-match press conference, "I think it's weird because I went to the warm up and I was sparring. He started serving big serves, I was trying to return. I hit and 'Sam I can't move my neck'. , I went to the training room, I told them what could I do, really nothing, it was just blocking there.
"In the warm-up, I didn't serve because I couldn't serve, I didn't know what to do because I couldn't really serve, I'm going to go out on the court, I'm going to try, maybe I could serve slower, I didn't want to leave Rome without giving it a shot.
"Overall, It's been a good week for me because I wasn't sure how I was going to go at the beginning of the tournament, I think the semifinals, I'm very happy with the way I played the matches, I'm going to keep with that."