Iga Swiatek proved once again to be the true force of this 2022 and by defeating Ons Jabeur with a double 6-2, lifting her second trophy at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. The Pole defended her title from last year and kept her incredible streak of wins open: since February she has triumphed in the tournaments of Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and now adds Rome to this unbelievable run.
The world number one showed amazing form and focus, resisting to the attempt from Jabeur to comeback in the second set: down 4-0, the Tunisian picked up her level and started fighting for every point. The 9th seed closed from 4-0 to 4-2 and had her chance to break back. That 7th game was probably the best quality tennis we have seen for the whole week, with unbelievable rallies and outstanding winners from both sides. In the end, it was Swiatek to win it and finally give the decisive push to close the match.
“I just felt huge relief”, said the Pole explaining why she fell on clay crying upon winning the title: “It’s also not easy to play against Ons. I felt like every game was really tight. Yeah, she played great tennis, especially changing the rhythm in second set, it was pretty smart. I wanted to be even smarter. I’m just really happy that I could cope with all the pressure and expectations so well. I think that was the reaction, because of that I had this reaction”.
After a dominating start, Swiatek started to feel Jabeur was coming back and the set could have easily taken a different direction: “she started to play a lot of dropshots, just spreading me around the court in different directions than before. Like, if it was that or my energy got a little bit lower, it’s hard for me to say. But for sure after that long rally that we had, I felt like I’m ready to push even more and to make it even more physical. I kind of shifted my attitude from, ‘Whoa, she’s going to spread me around now’, to, ‘I’m going to get to every ball now and play every point till the last shot’. For me, like, I’m pretty angry at myself that it took me a few points to shift that attitude. But I wanted to really come back in that game where I served, not let her come back to the match. Also I’m proud of that”.
Even Jabeur was happy with her performance even though the loss and the score might have suggested otherwise: “Pretty happy with the level I played with. I will just be positive with myself and try to recover on time for the French Open, my main goal, to be honest with you. I feel like I did my best today. Didn’t play my best tennis, for sure. But I’m pretty happy with the past three weeks. I’m just going to keep positive for now and focus on the French Open”.
“I recognize she played really well”, she continued explaining why, in spite of the loss, she can leave Rome head up: “I know is I tried my best today, maybe I didn’t play my best tennis, but Iga can make you be that kind of player on the court. I feel like I prefer to lose a final in a 1000 than a final in a Grand Slam. So, I take that a positive thing. I’m staying positive for the future. I don’t want to ruin the last three weeks with this match. Definitely keeping it positive. Iga is Iga. She deserves to be here. She deserves to win matches like that. I will definitely learn a lot from this match”.
Is this the start of a classic rivalry? The future of tennis promises great things with these players and already in Paris it could live another fun chapter.