Stuttgart | Swiatek stuns Sabalenka to snag 4th title in a row

Newly-minted World No 1 Iga Swiatek stamped her authority on the top spot with a stunning 6-2 6-2 victory over Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart on Sunday, taking her running tally to 4 consecutive title wins and 23 matches in a row.

For sure right now I need to work harder to keep this streak, but I’m just going to take it match by match, and I’m super proud of myself and really satisfied. These are the kind of players who were role models when I was growing up, so it’s great. Iga Świątek

Since losing her first WTA final as a 17-year-old in 2019, Swiatek has now won 7 career titles, and is also the first player to chalk up 30 match wins this season, with just 3 losses.

This week she had to change court surface, from hard to indoor clay, and admitted she found the conditions difficult to get used to, but the Polish top seed effectively dismantled Sabalenka, the World No 4, in an hour and 24 minutes of brutal and accurate ball-striking.

“I worked hard this week to adjust properly, and to play my best tennis on the surface, so I’m really proud of myself,” Swiatek, who beat US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the quarter-finals on Friday.

“I’m really proud of my team because after yesterday’s match it wasn’t easy to reset, and also, physically, and mentally to be ready for today.”

The 20-year-old has confirmed herself as the dominant World No 1 following Ash Barty’s retirement in March, by adding the WTA 500 championship in Stuttgart to her WTA 1000 titles in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami.

Swiatek dropped a set for the first time since Indian Wells against Liudmila Samsonova in the semi-finals on Saturday, ending the Pole’s run of 14 consecutive straight-set wins.

“Well, that’s kind of another tournament where I surprised myself, that I can do it and, basically, that I don’t need to be 100 percent perfectly prepared, or I don’t need to feel like 100 percent, to still play really good tennis, and play solid matches,” said Swiatek with a laugh.

“The transition was pretty quick, and I had a lot of doubts but, again, I just didn’t want to really focus on that and I just focused on what I had influence on.

“So, yeah, that’s another tournament that has shown me that I can do it, no matter what.”

There was no such stumble in the final, though, in which Swiatek cleaned up her act and brushed aside any possible threat from Sabalenka.

“It was a tough match, we fought for every game, hopefully there will be many more to come,” said Swiatek.

Aryna Sabalenka's revival run in Stuttgart was brought to an abrupt end by Iga Swiatek in the final

© Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

After a stuttering start to the year, Sabalenka had reached her first semi-final and final of the season, and successfully defended the points she gained as the runner-up to Barty here last year.

Despite the scoreline, the opening set was tight, but Swiatek was relentless, breaking Sabalenka’s serve twice and fighting off moments of pressure.

Although she had to save a break point in the opening game with a stunning cross-court backhand, she methodically moved through the set from there, surviving a patch of brilliant Sabalenka back-hands as the Pole picked off the big points in a handful of tight games before an untimely double-fault by the 3rd seed on set point ceded the opener to Swiatek.

Sabalenka toughed out a service hold from break point down at 1-1 in the second, deploying multiple forehand winners down the line, but Swiatek found perfect placement on her shots down the stretch, grabbing the last 4 games to finish off the final on her 3rd championship point, and joyfully tossing her racket high into the air while holding up 4 fingers for each of her 2022 titles.

All told, Swiatek’s 17 winners outpaced Sabalenka’s 13, while the top seed won 77 percent of her first-service points and was never broken on the day.

Swiatek thanked her team for helping her recover in the short time between her semi-final win over Samsonova, which lasted just over 3 hours.

“Thank you for giving me life again,” she said. “The atmosphere was amazing and it was great to see all the Polish flags, it’s such a huge support for us.”

Her tally of 23 straight victories sees Swiatek match Naomi Osaka’s winning streak from 2020-21 as she approaches Venus William’s record of 35 triumphs on the WTA tour. She also notched up 2 further wins in the Billie Jean King Cup for Poland last weekend.

After the match, Swiatek said: “It’s pretty surreal, honestly. A few years ago I wouldn’t even think about being in this kind of group.

“For sure right now I need to work harder to keep this streak, but I’m just going to take it match by match, and I’m super proud of myself and really satisfied.

“These are the kind of players who were role models when I was growing up, so it’s great.”

The former French Open champion, who will take a Porsche home as well as her €93,823 in prize money, now has a lead of more than 2,000 points in the rankings.

Demi Schuurs & Desirae Krawczyk defeated Coco Gauff & Shuai Zhang to win the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix doubles title in Stuttgart

© Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images

Later on Sunday, No 2 seeds Desirae Krawczyk & Demi Schuurs captured the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix doubles title with a 6-3 6-4 victory over American Coco Gauff & Zhang Shuai from China, the top seeds.

The US-Dutch team fought off 6 break points in their last 2 service games before prevailing in 1 hour and 19 minutes of play to win their first doubles title as a team.

The wins marks the 15th career doubles title for Schuurs and the 7th for Krawczyk.

They paired up for the first time at Indian Wells last month, and after starting their partnership with a 2-3 record, they knocked off 4 wins in a row to capture the title in Stuttgart.

“I think we’re both really happy with the improvements we’ve had the past few weeks,” Krawczyk said after the final. “I think we’re just really thrilled, and we’re hoping to keep it going in the next few tournaments.”

Schuurs added: “Today, I think we stepped on court and we said, ‘OK, we want to enjoy, and we’re gonna go for it.’ …I’m happy that we won this title, so at least it’s something that we know is in us, and we can do it every week.”



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.