ROME, Italy – World number one Iga Swatik survived a bruising test to beat former number one Victoria Azarenka 6-4 6-1 to advance to the Intercontinental BNLD Italia quarter-finals. The victory extended Swiatek’s winning streak to 25 games, the longest since Serena Williams racked up 27 consecutive wins in 2015. This win forms Friday’s marquee match against 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu.
While the score streak appears routine, Swiatek found herself under constant pressure from Azarenka’s rematch. The 20-year-old needed 79 minutes to complete a comeback from a double break, at 0-3, in the opening set. Azarenka held at least one break point in each of Swiatek’s service games in the opening game, racking up a total of 11 break points.
“I didn’t start well and everyone can see that,” Swiatek told reporters. “I’m really happy with the way you reacted and how you improved in the first set. Also, how the second set looked different from the first because I was really able to reset the gameplay. That’s the most positive thing for me.”
But in the first set’s main game, Swiatek came through a seven-stroke match, eliminating three break opportunities, to maintain a 4-3 lead. This suspension was part of Swiatek’s five matches, but the Azarenka fight never wavered. With Swiatek serving the set at 5-3, the former No. 1 spent four set points and a break to get back on serve.
Swiatek kept her calm. So far, the Poles had leveled in their best comeback match, breaking Azarenka on the fifth set point to finally finish the set. Swiatek continued to dominate a comeback through the second set, breaking Azarenka four more times to seal the match and book her place in the fifth straight quarterfinals.
Match stats: Under pressure throughout the long opening set, Swiatek had to play 74 points on her serve. In turn, Azarenka played only 30. But Swiatek’s ability to save eight of her 11 break points while converting four of her five break points upended the scenario in Azarenka’s powerful first set.
When the dust finally settled on Central Stadium, Swiatek won 12 of the match’s last 14 matches. Swiatek finished with 34 wins for 39 unforced errors, while Azarenka scored 18 wins for 31 unforced errors.
Andreescu books her biggest quarter-final on clay
Three tournaments after her comeback, Andreescu reached the quarter-finals of the WTA 1000 for the first time in 14 months, defeating qualifier Petra Martic 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 43 minutes in the round of 16.
Highlights: Andreescu D. Martic
The 21-year-old Canadian returned to work in Stuttgart last month after a six-month mental health hiatus, and will make her debut in Rome. Faced for the first time with semi-finalist Martic last year, she tackled the tough challenge of a clay-court expert with impressive sharpness.
Andreescu, ranked 90th, last appearance in the WTA quarter-finals was also her last appearance in the quarter-finals on clay, at the WTA 250 in Strasbourg last year. This result marks her first quarter-final in the WTA 1000 since reaching the 2021 Miami Final.
In numbers: In a struggle between two powerful servants, the stats paper demonstrates Andreescu’s superiority in this key area and at key moments. The former US Open champion broke 72% of her first serve compared to Martic’s 50%, saving six of seven break points while converting three of Martic’s four serve points.
The first of the last came 4-4 in the first set. With the match on a knife edge, Andreescu seized control, volleying a long volley to move forward. Martic began facing double-faults as the second set started, and Andreescu continued to exploit those errors, hitting a winning forehand to break 2-1.
Martic’s extensive repertoire of Croatian shootings earned him plenty of highlights, and a flurry of performance saw him break and win back by two points to advance 4-2. But the 47th world missed both, and continued to suffer double faults, scoring six in the second set alone.
The fifth of those gave the break back to Andreescu, who clinched the win with a shot on her third match point.
Sabalenka, Tishman qualify for the quarter-finals
Earlier, No.3 seed Aryna Sabalenka claimed her third consecutive victory over No.13 seed Jessica Pegula 6-1 6-4 in a strong, dominant display to reach the quarter-finals of Rome for the first time.
Highlights: Sabalenka d. pegola | Tishman d. Rybakina
Sabalenka extended her all-around showdown against the American to 3-1, with her triple-doubles coming all in straight sets on clay. Pegula, who reached her first World Championship 1000 final last week in Madrid, was able to recover after trailing 5-2 in the second set, but conceded defeat by a double fault.
However, Jill Tishman was able to continue her strong form from Madrid, where she was in the semi-finals. The arrogant Swiss, who had a career high at 29, produced her second upset of three sets over Petrangelli among the top 20, defeating Elena Rybakina 6-7 (3), 6-3, 7-5 in 3 hours and 2 minutes.
Diversity in her game and her life leads Jill Tishman to new heights
This is the second consecutive tournament that Tishman has beaten the Kazakhs on the same stage, although her marathon victory in Rome was somewhat more difficult than her 6-3, 6-1 victory in Madrid. The result is Tishman’s 13th career Top 20 win, with her twelfth victory once on the same court over Karolina Pliskova.