ROME ( Associated Press) — Not since Serena Williams seven years ago has a woman had such a winning streak.
No. 1 Iga Swiatek beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-2, 6-1 on Saturday to add 27 straight match wins and advance to the Italian Open final.
Williams had won the same number of matches in 2014 and 2015.
“I constantly surprise myself that I can play better and better,” Swiatek said. “I feel that now I can believe that there is no ceiling. That’s the best”.
Defending her title in Rome and seeking her fifth tournament in a row, Swiatek dominated No.8 Sabalenka with a mix of power, persistence and skill.
Although he struggled with his serve at times, Swiatek had forehand and backhand winners on the slow red clay of the Foro Italico. The Pole had a delicate semi-volley backhand in the last game of the first set.
Swiatek had the same number of winners and unforced errors, while Sabalenka had eight winners and a whopping 31 unforced errors.
“Today I felt like I really understood clay,” Swiatek said.
Sabalenka requested a medical break in the second set to receive treatment on her back.
Swiatek, the surprise 2020 French Open champion when she was ranked No.54, will be the favorite to win her second Roland Garros title. The second Grand Slam tournament of the year starts next weekend.
Swiatek’s opponent in the Italian final on Sunday will be either Ons Jabeur – on a 10-match winning streak – or Daria Kasatkina.
In the next few hours the men’s semifinals will be settled, Novak Djokovic against Casper Ruud, and Alexander Zverev against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Swiatek’s season has more than just a winning streak.
With more than half to go, he has won as many matches this year (36) as he has in all of 2021.
She is the seventh player to reach the Rome final twice before her 21st birthday. The previous ones were Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Gabriela Sabatini, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis and Venus Williams.