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Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Swiatek beats Andreescu to reach semis in Italy

ROME ( Associated Press) — Iga Swiatek stepped forward and no one has stopped her.

Swiatek seized the top of the world rankings in women’s tennis by default two months ago, when Ash Barty announced her immediate retirement. That, coupled with the absence of Serena Williams for almost a year, has caused many questions about who could claim to be the new star to beat.

Well, since February no one has beaten Swiatek.

The Pole extended her winning streak to 26 matches and advanced to the Italian Open semifinals by beating former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu 7-6 (2), 6-0 on Friday.

Swiatek struggled to come to terms with being one of the top five tennis players in the world last year. She has now learned to use her recent success to intimidate.

Considering her prowess on hard courts, the frequently injured Andreescu has been considered a potential world number one. But Swiatek slowly wore the Canadian down in a lengthy first set at the Foro Italico and dictated the tie break by moving her opponent back and forth.

In all, Swiatek produced 27 game winners to Andreescu’s 12 and converted all six of his break points.

“I feel like every game I’m playing better and better,” Swiatek said. “Although the first set was quite tight, in which I had some ups and downs, I feel like I could play well in the important moments and recover at any moment.

“I am very happy that the second set was stronger, because it shows that I am learning my lessons throughout the match.”

Swiatek’s opponent in the semifinals will be third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, who came from behind to beat Amanda Anisimova 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, her first victory over the American in five attempts.

Also advancing was recent Madrid Open champion Ons Jabeur, who beat Maria Sakkari 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 for her 10th straight win. In the semifinals, Jabeur will face Jil Teichmann or Daria Kasatkina.

In the men’s division, fifth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas served 10 aces to beat Jannik Sinner 7-6 (5), 6-2.

It is the third straight Masters semi-final on clay for Tsitsipas, who defended his Monte Carlo Masters title last month only to be beaten by Alexander Zverev in Madrid.

Tsitsipas will meet Zverev again in the Rome semifinals after the 2017 champion defeated Chile’s Cristian Garin 7-5, 6-2.

Later, top-ranked Novak Djokovic faces Felix Auger-Aliassime for the first time. The winner of that match will collide with Casper Ruud, who for his part beat Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7), 7-5.

Swiatek looks to win his fifth tournament in a row and defend his title in Rome.

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