Italian Open 2022: Iga Swiatek cruises into Rome final, thrashes Aryna Sabalenka

Swiatek was forced to drop from the Madrid Open in April due to a shoulder ailment, but she was at her best against Sabalenka on Saturday.

Iga Swiatek at the 2022 Miami Open. (Image: Twitter/Iga Swiatek)

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek reached her fifth consecutive Hologic WTA Tour final on Saturday, beating world no. 8 Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-1 in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia quarterfinals. In the final on Sunday, the 20-year-old Polish sensation will compete for her seventh career championship against either Ons Jabeur or Daria Kasatkina. Swiatek was forced to drop from the Madrid Open in April due to a shoulder ailment, but she was at her best against her Belarussian opponent on Saturday. Swiatek defeated Sabalenka in Rome in one hour and 16 minutes to achieve her 27th consecutive victory, a feat previously accomplished by Serena Williams in 2015.

Swiatek’s Revenge

Swiatek was defeated by Sabalenka in her first match at the WTA Finals last fall, but has since lost the following three. On her way to two of her four triumphs this season, the Pole defeated Sabalenka in straight sets, first in the semifinals of Doha and then in the final of Stuttgart. Swiatek is the first player since Simona Halep in 2017 to reach four WTA 1000 finals in a single season, with victories in Doha, Indian Wells, and Miami. Swiatek has only lost 17 games on his way to the Rome final. Only Williams (10), Kim Clijsters (13) and Martina Hingis (15) have lost fewer matches at the Foro Italico in the last 25 years.

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Semifinal Highlights

Swiatek put up her strongest performance of the week on Court Centrale, suffocating Sabalenka from the baseline. The Polish set the tone early, breaking Sabalenka in both of her serve games to take a 3-1 lead. Swiatek maintained her goals large and constantly put Sabalenka’s rally tolerance to the test. In the end, Sabalenka made 16 unforced errors in the first set, scoring only three winners. Swiatek won the first set in 31 minutes after keeping a clean sheet with five winners to six unforced mistakes. The Belarussian, who needed a back massage when down 4-1 in the second set, won only two of her service games and couldn’t keep up with Swiatek’s fast-paced style.

Swiatek is the defending winner in Rome and the favorite for the French Open later this month, as seen by the manner she handled her opponent. Swiatek is currently 30-0 when she wins the opening set at WTA 1000s. She is 6-1 versus Top 10 opponents in 2022, having won six consecutive. Her lone defeat came in the Adelaide semifinals to former No. 1 Ashleigh Barty.

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