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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, May 15, 2022


Iga Swiatek defeated Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-2 successfully defending her Rome title and stretching her career-best winning streak to 28 matches.

Photo credit: Getty

Skid marks etched on the salmon-colored court traced Iga Swiatek’s remarkable red run.

It was moving day in Rome and Swiatek packed precision to sustain powerful procession.

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World No. 1 Swiatek dissected Madrid champion Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-2 successfully defending her Rome championship at the Foro Italico and stretching her career-best winning streak to 28 matches.

"Proud of myself. At the beginning of the tournament, I didn't know it would be possible to keep up the streak and with all the wins," Swiatek said afterward. "I'm pretty happy I did it really step by step and I just focused on the right things because I think it led to all the success this week.

"Yeah, for sure it was a long path for me since the beginning, but I'm really proud of myself and my team."

When Jabeur’s final backhand expired into the tape, Swiatek flung her racquet aside, fell to her knees and held her face in her hands absorbing her Rome run with an eruption of joy.

The only answer Swiatek lacked was explaining excellence afterward.

“I don’t know,” Swiatek said when asked how she does it. “Honestly, I just really take it step by step.

“Congratulations Ons because you had such a great run on clay court. You have shown the fighting spirit and so much variety on court that really it’s so nice to have you on Tour because your tennis is just different and it’s really interesting for women’s tennis.”

Continuing dynamic dominance, Swiatek captured her fifth consecutive championship joining Serena Williams (in 2013) as the second woman to raise four WTA 1000 titles in the same season.

Winning isn’t easy, but the tennis the surging Swiatek produces sometimes looks effortless.

The top seed’s 28-match winning streak is the longest on Tour since former world No. 1 Serena Williams amassed 34 consecutive victories in 2013. Swiatek hasn't lost since bowing to former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in Dubai on February 16th.

Here’s the thing: Swiatek isn’t just winning, she’s often obliterating quality opponents.

The 20-year-old Pole has won 42 of her last 43 sets contested and permitted just 21 games in five tournament wins this week to successfully defend her title snapping Jabeur’s 11-match winning streak in the process.

Solidifying her status Roland Garros favorite, Swiatek continued her history as a supreme closer. Swiatek scored her eighth straight finals win raising her record in title matches to 8-1.

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The 2020 Roland Garros champion will carry a 35-3 record into Paris and an aura of invincibility on dirt where she’s posted a perfect 9-0 mark this season.

Today, Swiatek elevated even higher at crunch time saving six of seven break points—including fighting off four break points for the crucial 5-2 hold in the second set.

"I just felt huge relief," Swiatek said of her emotional championship point reaction. "It's also not easy to play against Ons. I felt like every game was really tight.

"She played great tennis, especially changing the rhythm in second set, it was pretty smart. I wanted to be even smarter."

Tennis Express

In a final featuring the two hottest players on the WTA Tour, Swiatek came out with a bit more fire and focus.

The top seed whipped a wicked backhand return crosscourt breaking in the second game. Swiatek backed up the break with a wide serve for 3-0.

Facing another break point, Jabeur stepped in to bolt a backhand winner crosscourt and save it. That strike helped her hold to get on the board in the fourth game.

The Madrid champion threatened Swiatek’s serve in the seventh game going up 15-30 and pushing the Pole to deuce. Twice Jabeur lifted drop shots that sat up too high and Swiatek made her both times. Swiatek rifled a forehand right back at her opponent followed by an apologetic hand gesture navigating her toughest hold for 5-2.

Swiatek’s spin, speed and power proved disarming. Jabeur again tried to play the drop shot. Swiatek read it and replied with a crosscourt backhand so quickly, a sprawling Jabeur lost the handle on her Wilson racquet trying to retrieve. That shot gave Swiatek a second set point.

Transitioning from defense to offense, Swiatek swatted a drive into the corner scoring her second straight break to snatch a one-set lead after 37 minutes. It was Swiatek’s 41st set win in her last 42 sets played.

Trying to reset, Jabeur hit a sliding flick forehand pass that fell in as she earned a break point to start the second set. Jabeur had a good look at a forehand down the line but pulled it wide.

The challenge for Jabeur was trying to gain inroads into Swiatek’s serve games and creating a balance between extending points and trying to finish them.

Attempting to assert her forehand, Jabeur sailed a forehand beyond the baseline as Swiatek broke in the Tunisian’s opening service game for the second straight set.

The top seed is a formidable front runner and Swiatek stamped her fifth straight game for 3-0 second set lead. An increasingly frustrated Jabeur punctuated a game-ending error kicking the ball soccer style.

The world No. 7 could not make inroads playing deep down the middle so she tried playing closer to the lines. Jabeur scattered another drive wide as Swiatek scored her third consecutive break for 4-0.

Seeing Swiatek was swallowing up her drop shot, Jabeur changed it up and attacked net. A fine volley in the corner capped her first break to snap a six-game slide. Jabeur backed up the break with a love hold for 2-4.

Facing her first real stress test, Swiatek fell into a love-30 hole then fell victim to Jabeur’s deadliest drop shot of the day that helped the Tunisian take a triple break point lead.

The world No. 1 saved all three including banging a backhand strike down the line to draw even at deuce. But Swiatek double-faulted to face a fourth break point. Sprinting up and back to run down Jabeur drop shots, Swiatek slid into a sensational backhand drop volley for a second deuce.

Strengthened by the stand, Swiatek slid a serve winner down the middle celebrating the crucial 5-2 hold with a defiant shout.

"This game was crazy," Jabeur said. "Then when she double-faulted at deuce, I was like, Why didn't she do that a point before or two point before?

"I mean, I did everything that I can. I made her visit all the corners of the court. I know that Iga plays much better when you open the court, so maybe I should have stayed more in the middle and let her lose the point. I don't know. Definitely I did my best. The thing is, I bring many more shots in that point. She deserved to win, for sure."

On championship point, Jabeur pasted a backhand into the tape, Swiatek dropped her racquet, fell to her knees, held her head in her hands unleashed emotional exhilaration.

Give Swiatek and hour and 23 minutes and she’ll give you an everlasting moment in the Eternal City with her fifth consecutive championship.

Feasting on victory, Swiatek had one taste on her mind afterward.

"Today we're gonna celebrate with some tiramisu, no regrets," a smiling Swiatek said.


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