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Italian Open: Swiatek triumphs over Andreescu, to face Sabalenka in semis

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Rome, May 13 (Ajitweekly News) World No 1 and defending champion Iga Swiatek extended her winning streak to 26 with a 7-6(2), 6-0 defeat of Canada’s Bianca Andreescu to reach the semifinals of the Italian Open, here on Friday.

The 20-year old Swiatek now owns the joint-fifth longest streak this century, matching the 26 consecutive wins with which Victoria Azarenka began 2012. Only Venus Williams, Serena Williams and Justine Henin have won more matches in a row since 2000.

Swiatek has also won 38 of her last 39 sets dating back to the fourth round of Indian Wells, with the only dropped set coming to Liudmila Samsonova in the Stuttgart semifinals.

The 2020 Roland Garros champion continued her pattern of excelling in the last eight. Swiatek has now won 12 of her 13 tour-level quarterfinals, with the only exception being her loss to Maria Sakkari at Roland Garros 2021.

It was the first pro meeting between two players who captured their first Grand Slams as teenagers within the past three years. Swiatek and Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion, only clashed once as juniors, with Swiatek winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in 2016 Junior Fed Cup action.

An absorbing first set saw momentum shift incrementally back and forth. Both players probed each other’s games while finding their own range, and as soon as one seemed to have the upper hand, the other fought back.

Swiatek had the brighter start, firing a series of backhand winners to take a 2-0 lead. Andreescu hit back with three games on the trot to edge in front, 3-2. Swiatek responded with her own trio of games, slamming a forehand crosscourt to seal a 5-3 lead. Some ferocious returning from Andreescu pegged the World No 1 back to 5-5.

Fittingly, the opening act was decided by a tie-break. Andreescu was rattled on the third point by an overrule in favour of Swiatek, who seized the last momentum shift and stayed on the front foot, sealing her first set point with an authoritative backhand one-two punch.

After such a tightly contested first set, Swiatek loosened up to race through the second, coming out on top of a series of electric baseline exchanges to break Andreescu three times. The Canadian clung on valiantly, saving two match points in style, but her backhand found the net on a third.’

Swiatek will now face Sabalenka in the semifinals. World No 1 leads the overall head-to-head with Sabalenka 2-1, including both of their meetings this year in the Doha quarterfinals and Stuttgart final. Across those two matches, Swiatek conceded just nine games.

Earlier in the day, No 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka snapped a three-year, four-match streak of futility against Amanda Anisimova at the Italian Open, gaining her first win in the series toadvance 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to the semifinals.

Sabalenka had lost to Anisimova twice on the Grand Slam stage in 2019, at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, as well as twice more in this year’s clay season, in Charleston and Madrid.But this was the deepest into a draw that the pair had faced off. Anisimova was bidding to reach her second semifinal at WTA 1000 level or above, and biggest since her breakout run at Roland Garros 2019.

However, three-time WTA 1000 champion Sabalenka rose to the occasion to book her second semifinal spot of 2022, and biggest since the US Open last year.

–Ajitweekly News


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