Johanna Konta is still searching for the first clay court title of her career after a straight-sets defeat to Karolina Pliskova in the final of the Italian Open in Rome.
The British number one admitted she was never given a look-in by her Czech opponent as she fell to a 6-3 6-4 defeat just two weeks after also finishing runner-up in Morocco.
Konta told wtatour.com: “I just thought she (Pliskova) didn’t really have a let-down in the whole match.
“She played very consistently. I found it quite hard to get a footing in the match, which is credit to her.
“She plays with big shots, quite flat, and big serves. It can feel sometimes like you are fighting an uphill battle, and that was the case today.”
Nevertheless Konta, who turned 28 on Friday, will take plenty of positives from her unexpectedly strong clay court season ahead of this month’s French Open, in which she is yet to win a main draw match in four attempts.
Konta’s semi-final victory over Kiki Bertens had marked the Briton’s first victory over a player ranked in the top five since beating Simona Halep at
Wimbledon in 2017.
But her hopes of repeating the feat against Pliskova eroded after the Czech broke in the second game of the first set and proceeded to make just five unforced errors to move ahead in the match.
Konta’s response was concerted as the second set went with serve before she had the opportunity to establish a 4-3 lead.
However, despite saving three break points, she was unable to fend off Pliskova a fourth time as the Czech made what proved to be a decisive move.
She made it 5-3 after Konta had fought her way back to deuce and although the Briton held in the penultimate game, Pliskova converted her third championship point to take the title and secure the number two spot in the new rankings on Monday.