Sabalenka relishing Saturday's historic clash against Swiatek in Italian Open final

It is the first meeting between the world No.1 and No.2 in the tournament's history with a winner's purse of €699,690 at stake

By Reuters

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Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka in action during her semi final match against Danielle Collins of the U.S. - Reuters
Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka in action during her semi final match against Danielle Collins of the U.S. - Reuters

Published: Fri 17 May 2024, 4:37 PM

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 Collins 7-5 6-2.


It's the first meeting between No.1 and No.2 in the tournament's history. This will also be the fifth time Sabalenka and Swiatek meet in a final, all of which have been on clay.

It would be the fourth meeting on clay between Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka as World No. 1 and 2 - equalling Evert and Navratilova for the most meetings on the surface in the past 40 years as the WTA's top-2 ranked players.


Poland's Iga Swiatek in action during her semi final match against Coco Gauff of the U.S. - Reuters
Poland's Iga Swiatek in action during her semi final match against Coco Gauff of the U.S. - Reuters

Rome is the sixth WTA 1000 tournament of the season. By making the final, Swiatek and Sabalenka have assured themselves 650 ranking points and €365,015 in prize money.

A win on Saturday would give the winner a total take of 1,000 points and €699,690.

Swiatek can also become the second player in the Open Era after Gabriela Sabatini to win three titles at the Italian Open before turning 23.

In the men's event Chilean 21st seed Nicolas Jarry fought back from a set down to beat world number eight Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6 7-5 6-4 and reach the semi-finals.

Jarry, who fought off 11 of 13 break points faced in the match, will next play American 14th seed Tommy Paul in his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.

Another Chilean, Alejandro Tabilo will take on German third seed Alexander Zverev the other semi-final. Two Chileans will appear in the semi-finals of an ATP 1000 event for the first time since the format was introduced in 1990.

Earlier on Thursday, Paul came through a marathon match to beat Polish seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz 7-5 3-6 6-3 to book his spot in the semi-finals.

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.

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."

"I think this match gave me confidence that I can win even though I'm not feeling the best way or I'm stressed at the beginning. I can still get the score back.

Swiated commented: "Maybe I'm less worried before matches because I know even if I'm going to be in trouble, I'll be able to recover from it maybe if I'm going to work hard. This is the kind of feeling that I have."

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