ROME: Top seed Simona Halep claimed the Italian Open in Rome on Monday after second seed Karolina Pliskova retired from the final with injury when she was down 6-0 2-1. Halep raced into a 5-0 lead in the opening set, breaking the defending champion three times and also saved three break points at 0-40 down in the fourth game. The Romanian, who even shook off a hard fall in the second game, was at her aggressive and disciplined best while Pliskova looked sluggish with her on-court movement, failing to hit a single winner as she was bagelled in 20 minutes. The limited number of fans allowed into Foro Italico’s centre court urged Pliskova to make it a contest, applauding the rare points she got on the score board, and it seemed to work as the second set started with the pair breaking each other. However, Pliskova was clearly struggling with an injury and despite receiving some treatment between sets on her lower back and leg, the Czech opted to retire to give Halep her first title in Rome. Victory gave Halep her third consecutive title of the year after wins in Dubai before the COVID-19 hiatus and Prague last month. Earlier, Halep overcame Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 6-3 4-6 6-4 in the first semifinal on Sunday to reach the final and stay on course for her third straight WTA title. Halep skipped the U.S. Open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Pliskova defeated compatriot Marketa Vondrousova 6-2 6-4 in the second semi-final. Halep, the 2018 Roland Garros champion cruised through the opening set and was on course for an easy win but Muguruza, who took a medical timeout for a back issue, battled back from 2-4 down to win the second set and force a decider. Watched by a small group of fans who were welcomed back for the first time since the Tour was shut down, Halep regained focus in the third set and switched gears to surge ahead 5-1. Muguruza was not done yet, however, as she clawed her way back to 5-4. But the 2016 French Open champion, who was serving to stay in the match, made successive double faults to gift victory to Halep.