Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and Andreescu eliminated at the Italian Open -

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and Andreescu eliminated at the Italian Open –

ROME (AP) – Iga Swiatek has stepped up and no one has brought her down.

Swiatek took first place in women’s tennis by default two months ago when Ash Barty announced her immediate retirement. Add to that the absence of Serena Williams for nearly a year and there were plenty of questions about who might assert themselves as the new woman to conquer.

Well, since February, no one has defeated Swiatek.

The Polish player continued her winning streak to 26 matches and reached the semi-finals of the Italian Open after defeating former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu 7-6 (2), 6-0 on Friday.

Swiatek struggled to deal with being one of the top five players last year. Now she’s learned how to use her recent success to intimidate.

“I needed time to learn how to do it right, how to use the line or the arrangement to put pressure on my opponents,” Swiatek said. “Last year when I had a better rating (than opponents), I felt it was something that was putting pressure on me. This time it is completely different.”

Considering her strength on the hard courts, the injured Andreescu was often thrown as No. 1. But Swiatek slowly bounced back Andreescu in a long first set at Foro Italico and hoped to break the tie by moving her opponent from side to side.

Overall, Swiatek produced 27 winners versus 12 winners for Andreescu and transferred all six of her break points.

“I feel every game I play better and better,” Swiatek said. “Although the first set was very tight, I had some ups and downs, I feel I can play well in important moments and rest at any time.

“I am very happy that the second set was also more solid because it shows that I am learning my lessons throughout the match.”

Swatic will compete in the semi-finals with third seed Aryna Sabalenka, who beat Amanda Anisimova 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to claim her first victory over the American in five attempts.

The Madrid Open champion, Anas Jaber, also advanced, who beat Maria Skari, 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 to claim her 10th consecutive win. Jaber’s opponent in the semi-finals will be Gil Teichmann or Daria Kasatkina.

In the men’s tournament, fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas sent in 10 aces to defeat Yannick Sener 7-6 (5), 6-2.

It’s the third consecutive Masters semi-final on clay for Tsitsipas, who defended the Monte Carlo Masters title last month and then lost to Alexander Zverev in Madrid.

And he will face Tsitsipas Zverev again in the semi-finals of Rome after the 2017 champions defeated Christian Garin 7-5, 6-2.

Later, top seed Novak Djokovic faced Felix Auger-Aliassime for the first time. The winner of that match will face Casper Rudd, who defeated Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7), 7-5.

Swiatek is trying to win the fifth consecutive championship and defend her title in Rome.

Williams was the last player to win back-to-back games in 2014-15, when she had a 27th streak.

Swiatek’s race makes her the favorite to win a second French Open title when this year’s second Grand Slam kicks off in nine days. When Swiatek won the Roland Garros in 2020, she ranked 54th – making her the lowest woman to win the Paris Grand Prix in the open era.

Swiatek’s recent success also gave her a comfortable 2,000-point lead over second seed Barbora Krejcikova, who was knocked out due to injury.

Tsitsipas kept his cool with nearly 10,500 fans supporting Sinner, the Italian who ranks 13th and is considered a future Grand Slam contender.

The 20-year-old Sinner has dropped to 0-12 in his career against his top-five opponents.

He was treated by a physical trainer after spraining his left thigh during the last point of the first set.

His body is still developing physically.

“That’s where the gap is,” said Sener. “In terms of tennis, I am there. Physically, I need to improve.”

There was a break of more than 10 minutes when Tsitsipas retained his second match point due to spectator illness near the top of the field. But Tsitsipas kept his cool and won the point when play resumed by running from a low shot and responding with a forehand over the line.

It’s a tough situation,” Tsitsipas said. “I’ve never had that before.”

2022-05-13 18:03:22

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