No. 1 Iga Swiatek beats No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka for third title in Rome

League: Tennis

Posted on: 18 May, 2024 at 09:12 PM

Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek won her third Internazionali BNL d'Italia in four years on Saturday, defeating No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-3 in Rome.

It was the eighth win for Swiatek, from Poland, in 11 meetings against her rival from Belarus. It also was the ninth straight win in a singles final for Swiatek, who most recently lost in a final round to Sabalenka at Madrid in 2023.

In Saturday's one hour, 29-minute match, Swiatek dominated the service game, winning 74 percent of the points on her first serve and 62 percent on her second serve -- and fending off all seven break points.

"I kind of knew that if I'm going to work hard and if I'm going to be in the right mindset, this is achievable," Swiatek said. "I'm happy I was so focused and disciplined throughout the tournament to do that."

Sabalenka won just 56 percent of her first service points, 41 on her second serve and was broken four times.

The win gave Swiatek her 21st career WTA title and fourth in 2024. Among those victories was a defeat of Sabalenka at the Mutua Madrid Open two weeks ago as Swiatek readies her clay-court game for the French Open, where she is the defending champion and a three-time winner (2020, 2022 and 2023). She also has won three times in Doha (2022, 2023 and 2024).

"For sure this match looked a little bit differently than in Madrid," Swiatek said. "I felt like I'm putting a lot of pressure. I just continued doing that throughout the whole match. Really proud of myself and really happy."

The two have developed a friendly rivalry and traded pleasantries during the trophy presentation.

Sabalenka said she has her eyes on a rematch in Paris.

"This time I'm not gonna forget. I'm gonna start with Iga," Sabalenka said. "Congrats on an incredible couple weeks. I hope we're gonna make it to the final of Roland Garros and I'm gonna get you there. Just kidding. At least I'll try to do better than today."

Swiatek responded: "Aryna, another final, another great battle. I knew it wouldn't be easy," she said. "Thanks for sharing the court with me and really pushing me to be better. We'll see about that Roland Garros final."

Swiatek, 22, also joins Dinara Safina (2009) and Serena Williams (2013) as the only players to with the tournaments in Madrid and Rome in the same season.

Swiatek committed just eight unforced errors on Sunday compared to 28 for Sabalenka.

"Her movement is incredible. You always know that you have to build the point and you have to finish the point," Sabalenka said. "That's why sometimes I try to overhit balls, knowing she's going to get to it. ... She's really good in every facet of the game."

--Field Level Media