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Swiatek demolishes Sabalenka to make Rome final

Rome (AFP) – Iga Swiatek cruised into the final of the Italian Open on Saturday after crushing Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets 6-2, 6-1 to put her one game from a fifth straight tournament win.

World number one Swiatek swatted Sabalenka aside in one hour, 16 minutes in Rome to claim her 27th win on the bounce, a tally last reached by Serena Williams in 2015.

Pole Swiatek is the reigning champion in Rome and favourite for the French Open later this month, a fact underlined by the way she dealt with her opponent.

World number eight Sabalenka is a two-time doubles Grand Slam winner and has 10 career singles titles to her name but the gulf on display at the Foro Italico was larger than the ranking suggested.

The Belarussian, who had to take a time out for a back massage while 4-1 down in the second set, won just two of her service games and could not keep up with Swiatek’s bustling style.

Swiatek now awaits the winner of the other semi-final between Ons Jabeur and unseeded Daria Kasatkina.

Ninth seed Jabeur made history last weekend by winning in Madrid to become the first Arab or African player to claim a WTA 1000 title.

The Tunisian is in the last four after an incredible fightback in her quarter-final win over Maria Sakkari on Friday.

One set down and 5-2 behind in the second, Jabeur strung eight games in a row to go ahead in the match, a lead she never relinquished.

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