Swiatek downs Gauff to meet Sabalenka in Italian Open final

Saturday, May 18, 2024

ROME: World number one Iga Swiatek marched into her third Italian Open final as she beat American third seed Coco Gauff 6-4 6-3 in the first semi-final on Thursday.

The Pole will face Aryna Sabalenka in the Rome showdown on Saturday after the world number two beat American 13th seed Danielle Collins7-5 6-2. This will be the fifth time Sabalenka and Swiatek meet in a final, all of which have been on clay.

Gauff saved two early break points in the first game and then broke Swiatek in the second for a 2-0 lead. However, the Pole hit back and then broke the U.S. Open champion at 4-4 before holding to take the first set 6-4 with a clinical backhand winner.

The second set went with serve until Swiatek broke the 20-year-old to lead 3-2 and eventually booked her spot in the final where she will bid for a third Italian Open title in four years. Following her 11th straight win on clay, Swiatek could become only the third player in history to win the Madrid-Rome double after Dinara Safina in 2009 and Serena Williams in 2013.

After Sabalenka setting up a rematch of Madrid Open final, the Belarusian was looking forward to another duel with Swiatek. “I really like our tough battles. It’s always close matches,” Sabalenka said when asked about facing Swiatek.

“I really enjoy playing against her. It’s always high level tennis. Hopefully we bring our best tennis and you guys enjoy watching us play. And hopefully this time I’m going to get this title with your support.”

The Belarusian raced to a 4-1 lead in the first set against Collins before the American broke back to draw level. Sabalenka, however, eventually took the set and eased to victory, never facing a break point in the second set.