Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka set up rematch in Rome final

League: Tennis

Posted on: 16 May, 2024 at 11:12 PM

Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek and No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka won their respective semifinal matches at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia on Thursday in Rome, setting the stage for a rematch in the final on Saturday.

Swiatek disposed of third-seeded Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-3 in a one-hour, 47-minute match, while Sabalenka secured her spot in the Rome final for the first time with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over No. 13 seed Danielle Collins in just one hour and 23 minutes.

Two weeks ago in the Mutua Madrid Open final, Sabalenka couldn't capitalize on three championship points as Swiatek rallied to win 7-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7) to earn her first title at the event. The Polish star improved to 7-3 in head-to-head matchups with her Belarusian counterpart.

"I think the level is there, the tennis is there, that I got everything to get this win," Sabalenka said of facing Swiatek. "I just have to focus on myself, I guess, and not rush things, wait for the right shot to finish the point."

Swiatek is 3-1 against Sabalenka in a final, also winning at Stuttgart in 2022 and 2023. Sabalenka's lone title win over Swiatek came in the 2023 Madrid final.

Swiatek can become just the third women's player to pull off the Madrid-Rome double in the last 15 years.

"I'm not really thinking about the statistics or history, and it's easier that way because it makes you play more relaxed and freely," said Swiatek, who is also seeking her third Rome title in four years. "I'm going to play the best tennis I can in the final and if I take it easy step by step then it'll be better than thinking about winning."

Swiatek, who is now 10-1 against Gauff, broke the reigning U.S. Open champion four times and only gave up one break in the match.

In the first set, Gauff broke Swiatek to take a 2-0 lead, but the Polish star rebounded right away as the pair went back and forth through eight games. At 4-4, Gauff had two straight double-faults and Swiatek took full advantage to take the set.

With Swiatek leading 4-2 in the second set, Gauff turned away two break points. But Swiatek clinched the match when Gauff, serving while down 5-3, hit a backhand long.

Sabalenka cruised to a 4-1 lead in her opening set, but Collins rallied to cut it to 4-3 before Sabalenka pulled it out. The second set was all Sabalenka as the Belarusian didn't face a break point. She went 4-for-7 on break points and had 21 winners to Collins' 15 in the match.

"I'm super happy to be in my first final in Rome," Sabalenka said. "I think I played really great tennis today. I'm super happy with the win, especially in two sets, against Danielle."

--Field Level Media