The sky is the limit for in-form world No. 1 Swiatek

ROME • Iga Swiatek yesterday underlined why she is the favourite for the upcoming French Open.

The world No. 1 made her fifth successive WTA Tour final after sweeping past third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-1 in a lopsided Italian Open contest in Rome.

She is on a tour-leading 27-match winning streak - the fourth-longest of the century - equalling the run by 23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams from the 2014 WTA Finals to the 2015 Madrid Open.

With titles in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami, the 2020 French Open winner is the first player since Simona Halep in 2017 to make four WTA 1000 finals in a single season.

Swiatek is also 6-1 this year against top-10 opponents, reeling off six straight victories, and her only defeat was against the now retired Ashleigh Barty in the Adelaide semi-finals back in January.

The 20-year-old will meet Ons Jabeur, who beat Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 but given Swiatek's imperious form in Rome, the Pole will take some stopping in the final at the Foro Italico today.

Not only was this her third successive win over eighth-ranked Sabalenka of Belarus, she also did so in crushing style, hitting 15 winners and finishing off her opponent in just over one hour.

Having lost only 17 games here so far, it is a record bested only by Williams (10), Kim Clijsters (13) and Martina Hingis (15) in the past 25 years.

Afterwards, Swiatek admitted that her confidence was at an all-time high.

"At these tournaments where we play day after day, we don't really get time to celebrate," she said.

"Right after we finish the previous match, we have to think about the next one. It's pretty tough. But I know that after... I'm going to be really proud of myself. For sure, I'm going to have time to think about what I did.

"But, yeah, I mean, I'm just constantly surprising myself that I can do better and better. I feel like I actually can believe now that the sky's the limit. That's the fun part, for sure."

In the men's semi-finals, Stefanos Tsitsipas, last year's French Open finalist, reached his first Rome final after outlasting Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to set up today's clash with either world No. 1 and his Roland Garros conqueror, Novak Djokovic, or Casper Ruud.

That semi-final result was not available by press time yesterday.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 15, 2022, with the headline The sky is the limit for in-form world No. 1 Swiatek. Subscribe