Brilliant Swiatek beats Sabalenka again to win third Rome title

Swiatek held firm in the second set to clinch her fourth title of the year and 21st in all

Iga Swiatek, Rome 2024 Iga Swiatek, Rome 2024 – © Alessandra Tarantino/AP/SIPA

Iga Swiatek produced a typically commanding performance as she beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-3 on Saturday to win the Italian Open in Rome for the third time.

The world No 1 was too fast, too consistent, too resilient and simply too good for the Belarusian as she picked up her fourth title of the year and the 21st of her career, the perfect platform as she heads to Paris to defend her French Open title.

“Aryna, another final, another great battle. After Madrid I knew it was not going to be easy,” Swiatek said. “I”m really happy I was able to play this consistently for this many weeks on the Tour.”

Swiatek and Sabalenka had gone the distance in their last meeting in the Madrid final last time out but Swiatek came out of the blocks quickly, breaking in the first game and again in the seventh as she cruised through the opening set.

The Pole was not at her absolute best on serve, finding the court only 39 percent of the time on her first serve but she was devastating behind it, winning 89 percent as she kept Sabalenka off balance, forcing errors from the world No 2.

Sabalenka UNABLE TO take her chances

Sabalenka took a bathroom break at the end of the first set and looked more in the mood at the start of the second, holding serve and then, in the second game, having five break points on the Swiatek serve.

But Swiatek saved them all to stay on track and two games later, when she found herself under pressure again, she saved two more to hold from 15-40.

Sabalenka was having more of an impact on the match, dictating more rallies than she did in the first set, but she couldn’t take her chances and the frustration boiled over as her racquet was thrown down in disgust.

Her frustration increased when at 3-3, she found herself two break points down and though she saved the first, a bold backhand return from Swiatek set up the point well and Sabalenka netted a backhand to give away the break for 4-3.

Swiatek ripped through her next service game to extend her lead to 5-3 and though Sabalenka saved one match point on her own serve, she couldn’t save the second as another backhand return forced the error.

“Congrats to Iga, incredible couple of weeks, great tennis,” Sabalenka said. “Hopefully we’ll get to the final at Roland-Garros and I’ll get you there.”

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