Tennis: Swiatek dominates No. 2 Sabalenka to claim her 3rd Italian Open title

AP , Saturday 18 May 2024

The latest matchup between top-ranked Iga Swiatek and No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka was hardly a contest.

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek, of Poland, holds her trophy after defeating Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, in the Italian Open tennis tournament final match at Rome s Foro Italico, Saturday, May 18, 2024. Swiatek won 6-2/6-3. Photo: AP

 

Swiatek was in control from the start as she won the Italian Open final 6-2, 6-3 on Saturday, earned her third trophy on Rome’s red clay and established herself as the overwhelming favorite at the French Open again.

Roland Garros starts next weekend and Swiatek will be aiming for a third straight title in Paris and fourth overall.

Swiatek extended her tour winning streak to 12 matches and became the first woman to complete the “dirt double” of winning Madrid and Rome back to back since Serena Williams in 2013.

The final was quite a contrast from when Swiatek had to save three match points before beating Sabalenka in a third-set tiebreaker in the Madrid Open final two weeks ago.

This time, Swiatek applied so much pressure early on that Sabalenka slammed her racket onto the clay in the fourth game and then had to grab a new stick from her bag.

Even on points when the hard-hitting Sabalenka seemed in control, Swiatek used her superb footspeed and accurate groundstrokes to turn the dynamics around and force Sabalenka into errors.

Sabalenka stepped up her game at the start of the second set but Swiatek saved seven break points in her opening two service games.

Adding to her titles from 2021 and 2022, Swiatek improved her career record in Rome to 20-2. At 22, the Polish player could approach the women’s record of five Italian Open titles held by Chris Evert.

Rafael Nadal, Swiatek’s idol, holds the overall record with 10 Rome trophies.

The men’s final on Sunday features 2017 champion Alexander Zverev against 24th-ranked Nicolas Jarry.

Swiatek also improved her career record against Sabalenka to 8-3. Swiatek has also won nine straight finals since she lost to Sabalenka in Madrid last year.

Swiatek earned a winner’s check of 699,690 euros (more than $750,000)

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