Former world number one Karolina Pliskova put a rematch with Greece's Maria Sakkari on the Italian opening Friday one year after the Czech player smashed the referee's chair in a temperament tantrum after losing the Greek.
Pliskova and Sakkari met in the second round at Foro Italico, when the Czech, furious at a phone call, hit a hole in the referee's chair after losing in three sets.
Pliskova, the fourth seed, beat Belarussian Victoria Azarenka 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-2 on Friday and plays 39. ranked Sakkari, who excluded France's Kristina Mladenovic 5-7, 6-3, 6- 0, for a place in the final.
"With Sakkari, I didn't play since last year, so I think everyone should wait for this fight – even me," said 27-year-old Pliskova, who was fined by WTA for her outbreak.
"I think (on one) pair (of) tournaments that were already close to happening, rematch after that. But she always lost before."
"I think she was afraid to meet me," she shot.
Since then, Sakkari has won his first WTA title on clay in Morocco last month.
"It was not a good memory I have," said the player from Athens. "But since then I think we both forgot it.
"We are both moving. I am sure it will be a very, very hard fight. She will stand up for it.
"Of course we will both be in the final. I just look forward to the match."
Pliskova is the top seed left in the last tournament before the French opening after the three top seeds, Naomi Osaka, Roland Garros champion Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova, all pulled out injured.
No Czech woman has won the Rome tournament since Regina Marsikova in 1978, with the former French open champion Hana Mandlikova last finalist back in 1982.
"There is no one like Rafa (Nadal) in the girls," Pliskova said.
"There is Simona (Halep), she is the best she moves on canvas.
"I think everyone right now is beatable."
Pliskova has credited the four-hour Italian open winner Conchita Martinez, now her coach, to improve her clay shape.
"I have Conchita. She won (in Rome) four times, so it's totally (very) motivated for me," Pliskova of the Spanish former Wimbledon champion said.
"She is trying to teach me things that are a little different.
"Rome for me was terrible so far in the last few years, especially last year."
Madrid Open champion and sixth seed Kiki Bertens advanced after Osaka retired.
She plays next British Johanna Konta, who fought past Czech Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to celebrate her 28th birthday in style.
? 2019 AFP