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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Saturday, May 18, 2024
World No. 1 Iga Swiatek was unbreakable sweeping No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka for her third Rome crown.

That didn't stop Sabalenka from reaching the breaking point.

More: Swiatek Sweeps Sabalenka for Third Rome Crown

Four games into the final, Sabalenka spiked her Wilson Blade off the red clay in frustration.

On this day, Sabalenka broke her stick, but failed to break Swiatek, who saved all seven break points she faced.

Reigning Roland Garros champion Swiatek rolled to her 12th straight win, while Sabalenka left Rome with a vow.

"I hope we’re gonna make it to the finals at Roland Garros and I’m gonna get you there," Sabalenka told Swiatek afterward.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek improved to 8-3 lifetime vs. Sabalenka scoring her ninth straight finals win.

Still, Sabalenka, who played with a creaky back, said she's confident she can go deep in Paris.

"I love Roland Garros. I did well last year there," said 2023 Roland Garros semifinalist Sabalenka. "I'm super exciting going there. Even though I lost these two finals, I mean, I never focus on the past.

"No matter how many times I lose to the player, I know anyway if I'll be there, if I'll be fighting, I'll be focusing on myself, I know that I can get that win. I mean, I'm going there with the confident that I can do well there."

The question is: Can Sabalenka stop Swiatek, who improved to 77-10 lifetime on clay, including a 14-1 mark on dirt this season?

Sabalenka can draw confidence from the fact she's the last woman to beat Swiatek in a final, at the 2023 Mutua Madrid Open. Sabalenka has consistently gone deep in Slams reaching three major finals in her last five Grand Slam appearances.

While pointing to Swiatek, who joined Dinara Safina and Serena Williams as the third woman to complete the Madrid-Rome Dirty Double sweep, as the clear favorite for Paris, Sabalenka said she's confident she can make another Roland Garros run.

"I'm definitely not the favorite probably there. But at the same time I do feel that I can actually go for it," Sabalenka said. "It's 50/50, you know? But I prefer to be underdog (smiling).

"Yeah, I really hope I'm going to make it to the final and I really hope I'll be able to get that win, if it's Iga or not. It's an amazing tournament. It's a Grand Slam. I'll just go there and fight for every point and see what happens after the tournament."

Photo credit: Getty