Published: 15:35, May 19, 2024 | Updated: 15:45, May 19, 2024
Swiatek brushes Sabalenka aside to win third Italian Open title
By Reuters
Iga Swiatek, of Poland, poses with her trophy after defeating Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, in the Italian Open tennis tournament final match at Rome's Foro Italico, May 18, 2024. Swiatek won 6-2/6-3. (PHOTO / AP)

ROME - Iga Swiatek beat Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-3 to win her third Italian Open title on Saturday as the Pole came out on top once again in a battle between the top two in the women's rankings following her Madrid Open triumph earlier this month.

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The title was the 21st of Swiatek's career as the world number one extended her unbeaten run to 12 matches on clay to sound out a warning to her rivals ahead of this month's French Open where she is a three-time winner and the defending champion.

Iga Swiatek, of Poland, returns with a backhand to Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, during the Italian Open tennis tournament final match at Rome's Foro Italico, May 18, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

"After Madrid I knew it would not be easy. It can always go both ways," 22-year-old Swiatek said. "Thank you (Sabalenka) for sharing the court with me and pushing me to be better."

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Swiatek broke Sabalenka twice in the first set where the Belarusian conceded 12 unforced errors in a lopsided start to the match. Sabalenka fought back, reaching five break points in a bid to lead 2-0 in the second, but Swiatek held her own serve.

Aryna Sabalenka, of Belarus, returns the ball to Iga Swiatek, of Poland, during the Italian Open tennis tournament final match at Rome's Foro Italico, May 18, 2024. (PHOTO / AP)

Sabalenka failed to break again with Swiatek holding her nerve to save two break points on her next serve. The set progressed to 3-3 before the Pole broke twice, ensuring her victory in the tournament without dropping a set.

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"I love this tournament... I'll come back stronger next year and hopefully win the trophy," Sabalenka said as she congratulated Swiatek. "I hope we make it to the final at Roland Garros and I will get you there."

In response, Swiatek said: "We will see about the Roland Garros final."