STUTTGART, GERMANY (REUTERS) - Tennis' world No. 1 Iga Swiatek captured her fourth straight title of the 2022 season by beating Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-2 in the Stuttgart Open final on Sunday (April 24), extending her winning streak to 23 matches.
Swiatek, a former French Open champion, had breezed through the opening rounds of the WTA 500 clay-court tournament before facing her biggest test in the semi-finals, where she battled back from a set down to overcome Liudmilla Samsonova on Saturday.
The Polish 20-year-old showed little signs of fatigue from that marathon clash as she saved an early break point and raced to a 3-0 lead before holding firm and taking the opening set when third-seeded Sabalenka, last year's runner-up, double-faulted.
The pair had split their previous meetings - in last year's WTA Finals and the Qatar Open in February - but it was the in-form Swiatek who excelled in their first clay-court match, dealing effortlessly with her opponent's big hitting.
The error-prone Sabalenka looked to mount a comeback after a crucial hold of serve at the start of the second set but Swiatek switched gears to break for a 4-2 lead and completed the victory when the Belarusian sent a shot long.
Debutante Swiatek's success in Stuttgart follows her triumphs in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami, and makes her a firm favourite for Roland Garros, where she won two years ago, starting on May 22.