ROME, Italy – Top seed and defending champion Iga Swiatek extended her winning streak to 26 with a 7-6 (2) 6-0 victory over Bianca Andreescu in one hour and 44 minutes to reach International BNLD Italia. The semi-finals.
Swiatek, at 20, now has the fifth longest running streak this century, matching the 26 back-to-back wins that Victoria Azarenka started in 2012. Only Venus Williams, Serena Williams and Justin Henin have won more matches in a row since 2000.
“Being in this kind of group is like a dream come true for me,” she said afterwards. “I wouldn’t have thought of that when I was younger. I’m so glad I was able to do it because consistency is something I really wanted to work on last year. I feel like it clicked this year.”
Swiatek has also won 38 of her past 39 sets dating back to the fourth round of Indian Wells, with the only dropped set coming to Liudmila Samsonova in the semifinals in Stuttgart. The 2020 Roland Garros champion continued her style of excellence in the quarter-finals. Swiatek has now won 12 of her 13 quarter-final matches, save for her loss to Maria Sakkari at Roland Garros 2021.
It was the first professional meeting between two players who won their first major teen slams in the past three years. Swiatek and Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion, met only once, as juniors, with Swiatek winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the 2016 Fed Cup Junior Championships.
Match management: The opening group’s momentum shifted back and forth. Swiatek had a brighter start, firing a string of backhand winners to take a 2-0 lead. Andreescu responded with three runs on the trot to score in the lead, 3-2. Swiatek responded with a three-game winning streak, hitting a cross forehand to take a 5-3 lead. Some strong returns from Andreescu re-ranked the world No. 1 to 5-5.
Conveniently, the opening chapter was determined by the tiebreak. Andreescu was shaken on the third point by an overtake in favor of Swiatek, who captured the last momentum change and stayed on his front foot, sealing her first set point with a 1-2 punch backhand.
After this first set of tight rivalries, Swiatek eased the race through the second set, topping a series of primary electric exchanges to break Andreescu three times. The Canadian clung valiantly, saving two match points in style, but her backhand found the net on a third point.
Swiatek on getting ready to face Andreescu: “I wasn’t really expecting anything because I didn’t really know how to play after the break. I watched several of her matches before she finished the break. At the moment, I didn’t know if her forgetfulness is the same or it has changed a bit.
“But I knew I could physically play in longer rally races and play longer matches as well. So I was basically ready for that. Also, I knew she was going to change her rhythm. I did that, which is really hard. Only when I knew that, she was ready for it. Tactically I knew that, so I’m very happy because we prepared well.”
Sabalenka’s first victory over Anisimova in five matches
3 seed Aryna Sabalenka cut three years out of four consecutive matches against Amanda Anisimova at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, claiming her first win of the series to advance 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to the semifinals.
Sabalenka has lost to Anisimova twice in the 2019 Grand Slam stage, at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, as well as twice this year’s claycourt season, in Charleston and Madrid.
Highlights: Sabalenka d. Anisimova
But this was the deepest tie the duo had ever faced. Anisimova was trying to reach her second semi-final at the WTA level 1000 or above, the biggest since her debut at Roland Garros 2019. But three-time WTA 1000 champion Sabalenka rose to the occasion to book her second place in the semi-finals. for 2022, and the biggest since last year’s US Open.
Match management: The match started parallel to their previous encounters. Anisimova easily redirected Sabalenka’s strength, and even when she lost her initial lead, she kept the momentum. Sabalenka coughed up five double faults in the first set, including a double breaking point.
But Anisimova would have been hurt by double faults during the rest of the match, making two of her break points in the second set. Meanwhile, Sabalenka has found her margins. After she scored 14 unintended fouls in the first set, she lowered that number to just four in the second and seven in the third.
The forehand winner took Sabalenka’s first break in the decider. Although another pair of double faults caused her to miss one of them, it was just a passing picture. She finished the match with her first ace that day.
I look ahead: Swiatek leads the overall showdown with Sabalenka 2-1, including their meeting this year in the Doha quarter-finals and Stuttgart final. During these two matches, Swiatek received only nine matches.