World No. 1 and top-seeded Iga Swiatek won her 27th consecutive match on Saturday, defeating No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.
The 20-year-old from Poland advanced to her fifth straight WTA Tour final — all of which she has won so far.
She will face No. 9 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, a 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 winner against Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in the second semifinal. Jabeur has won two of the three matches with Swiatek but this will be their first meeting on clay.
Swiatek’s run of 27 straight wins ties Serena Williams (2014-15) for the fourth-longest streak this century. Venus Williams won 35 straight in 2000.
“At these tournaments where we play day after day, we don’t really get time to celebrate,” Swiatek 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.”
Swiatek also defeated Sabalenka, the World No. 8 from Belarus, in the final in Stuttgart last month.
On Saturday, Swiatek needed just 31 minutes to capture the first set, taking advantage of 16 unforced errors to just three winners for Sabalenka. Swiatek also converted three of four break chances.
In the second set, Swiatek took a 4-0 lead and cashed in on three of 11 break chances to win the match.
“I’m pretty happy that I learned the lessons on previous matches,” Swiatek said. “On previous matches, I felt like I’m kind of letting my opponents come back to the match a little bit. This time I wanted to put pressure on my opponent from the beginning till the end. I think Aryna was under pressure, so it really helped me and that was my tactics.”
Jabeur is looking for her second straight WTA 1000 title after her win last week in Madrid. She has won 11 straight matches and leads the tour with 17 victories this season on clay. She is the first player since Simona Halep in 2017 to reach three clay-court finals in a single season.
Trailing 5-4 in the deciding set, Jabeur saved a match point with a forehand winner. She got the break in that game with a drop shot, then used another successful drop shot to finish off the match in one hour and 55 minutes.
Jabeur is looking to join Dinara Safina (2009) and Serena Williams (2013) as the third player to win the Madrid and Rome titles in the same year.
–Field Level Media