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Tennis: Świątek crushes Sabalenka to reach Italian Open final

World number one Iga Świątek swept aside third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-1 in a lopsided contest in Rome on Saturday to advance to an Italian Open final against Ons Jabeur.

Świątek extended her winning run to 27 matches, matching the tally set by Serena Williams in 2015, as she outclassed Sabalenka in just over an hour to reach her fifth consecutive WTA final.

“I’m just constantly surprising myself that I can do better and better,” Poland’s Świątek said, adding that “at these tournaments where we play day after day, we don’t really get time to celebrate… But I know that afterwards, I’m going to be really proud of myself.”

Świątek broke Sabalenka twice in the opening set to build a 3-1 lead before closing it out in around 30 minutes and continued the onslaught as she went 4-0 ahead in the second.

World number eight Sabalenka, who won only two of her service games, received a medical timeout at 4-1 down but it only delayed the inevitable.

Sabalenka finished with 31 unforced errors, twice as many as Świątek who hit 15 winners en route to victory to equal Williams’ streak which began in the 2014 WTA finals.

The 20-year-old improved her overall head-to-head record with Sabalenka to 3-1, having also won both of their meetings earlier this year – the Stuttgart final and Doha quarter-finals – in straight sets.

“I’m pretty happy that I learned the lessons from previous matches,” Świątek said. “I felt like I was letting my opponents come back a little bit. This time, I wanted to put pressure on from the beginning until the end.”

Świątek will take on Tunisia’s Jabeur in Sunday’s final after she beat Daria Kasatkina 6-4 1-6 7-5 to claim her 11th victory on the bounce having won her first WTA 1000 title in Madrid last week.

Ninth seed Jabeur took a topsy-turvy opening set where neither player was able to get into a rhythm but Kasatkina continued to play aggressively in the second and dominated as unforced errors began creeping into her opponent’s game.

Jabeur was unable to put away a straightforward smash in the decider and handed Kasatkina a break point at 4-4 before she saved a match point in the next game and broke back to level, closing out the win with a trademark drop shot.

“Ons [Jabeur] is a pretty tricky player with all the slices and drop shots, changing of rhythm,” Świątek said.

“I have played against her a few times, it was always hard. It’s going to be a nice final and she deserves to be there.”


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