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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, May 14, 2022

 
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World No. 1 Iga Swiatek stomped Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-1 streaking into her second straight Rome final with her 27th consecutive victory.

Photo credit: Getty

Absorbing a thrashing for a set-and-a-half, Aryna Sabalenka finally pressed pause taking a medical timeout.

The Iga Swiatek firing squad never stopped.

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World No. 1 Swiatek slammed Sabalenka 6-2, 6-1 streaking into her second straight Rome final with her 27th consecutive victory.

"I'm really happy for the whole process that we had this week because I had to dig through some worse moments," Swiatek said afterward. "I feel like I'm getting better and better.

"Today I felt like I really understood the clay, so it's pretty nice."

A stylishly imposing Swiatek raised her 2022 record to 34-3 and now stands one win from her fifth consecutive championship of the season. Swiatek has been so efficient, she's hardly had time to celebrate this streak.

"Right after we finish the previous match, we have to think about the next one," Swiatek said. "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."

Success breeds confidence and Swiatek's is soaring sky-high now.

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

About the only reprieve Sabalenka got from an unrelenting Swiatek was when the Belarusian took a medical timeout for an apparent back issue down 6-2, 4-1.

While Sabalenka was lying on her stomach getting back treatment, Swiatek went on out court and hammered serves that bounded off the back wall with a resounding metallic thud.

Tennis Express

Even when the ball wasn’t in play, Swiatek was in imposing presence stretching a magnificent and historic run.

The 20-year-old Swiatek is the first woman since former No. 1 Simona Halep in 2017 to reach four WTA 1000 finals in the same season. Swiatek’s 27 straight victories is the longest streak since Serena Williams won 27 in a row in 2015.

Facing one of the biggest hitters in the sport, Swiatek beat Sabalenka into submission from the baseline bursting into her second straight Rome final.

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Last May, Swiatek smoked Karolina Pliskova in a double-bagel beatdown to win Rome. Tomorrow, Swiatek will take on either Madrid champion Ons Jabeur or 23rd-ranked Daria Kasatkina as she plays for an eighth career title.

At this point, Swiatek is so dominant her matches, sometimes the only real drama is: Will opponents push her past the one-hour mark? In today’s opening semifinal, Sabalenka kept Swiatek on court for 79 minutes in a match devoid of drama.

The top-seeded Pole pounded Sabalenka 6-2, 6-2 in last month’s Stuttgart final and picked up right where she left off in this Rome rematch.



The third-seeded Sabalenka started and ended the match on double faults.

The big-hitting Belarusian’s sometime unruly serve has attracted attention this season; Swiatek’s return game was razor sharp. Swiatek won 22 of 31 points played on the Belarusian’s first serve (71 percent), converted six of 15 break points and reeled off seven straight games turning a competitive 3-2 lead into a 6-2, 4-0 beatdown.

During that surge, Swiatek won three of those seven games at love basically beating the belief out of the Wimbledon semifinalist.

Swiatek, who celebrates her 21st birthday on May 31st, is now 30-0 when winning the first set in a WTA 1000 event and looks poised to keep this power trip rolling in tomorrow’s final.

 

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