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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday May 16, 2024


Aryna Sabalenka took out Danielle Collins for the sixth consecutive time, booking a clash with World No.1 Iga Swiatek in the Rome final.

Photo Source: Getty

On Saturday, it will be rivalry on in Rome once again.

Aryna Sabalenka eased past Danielle Collins 7-5, 6-2 on Thursday night to set a rematch of this year’s Madrid final – and an 11th career meeting – with Iga Swiatek at the Foro Italico.

Tennis Express

Two weeks ago in the Spanish capital, Swiatek saved a trio of match points to deny Sabalenka a successful title defense in the final; on Saturday in the Italian capital, the Belarusian will look to return the favor against the most dominant clay court player in women’s tennis.

Swiatek owns the 7-3 lifetime edge over Sabalenka, and 3-1 on clay, but Sabalenka has proven to be one of the players that can push the Pole to the brink on her favorite surface.

“It gives me extra motivation,” Sabalenka said of the final. “I really like our tought battles, it’s always close matches and I really enjoy playing against her. It’s always high-level tennis.”

Swiatek may have the edge over Sabalenka, but gainst the rest of the tour the two-time Grand Slam champion is looking invincible. Sabalenka improved to 25-6 on the season, and 11-2 on clay, with her win over 13th-ranked Collins.

She was strong from start to finish against red-hot Collins, who had won 19 of her last 20 matches heading into Thursday’s showdown. Sabalenka temporarily squandered a 4-1 lead in the opening set, with Collins pegging her back at 4-all, but the World No.2 took three of four games to take the opener, 7-5.

The second set was never close, as Sabalenka pulled away to reach her first career final in Rome.

Sabalenka hit 19 winners against 19 unforced errors, while Collins hit 15 winners and 19 unforced errors.

26-year-old Sabalnka has come through two tough three-setters in Rome (and seven of nine since the clay season started in April in Stuttgart), and struggled with a back issue in her round of 16 victory over Elina Svitolina, but all the while Sabalenka has steadily raised her level.

“She’s moving better, and she’s throwing in that drop shot which was not even a part of her game a year ago,” Andy Roddick said on Tennis Channel. “I think she’s playing better so far in Rome than she did in Madrid.”

Sabalenka will bid for her 15th career title on Saturday, while Swiatek, who defeated Coco Gauff in straight sets earlier on Thursday, will bid for her 21st.

“The atmosphere here is incredible,” Sabalenka told the crowd. “It’s a dream tournament to win and that’s what keeps me motivated and keeps me fighting to the very last point. I just want to enjoy this incredible court and this incredible atmosphere one more time – super happy to be in my first final here in Rome.”


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