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Swiatek cruises through tricky Rome opener

Iga Swiatek defeated Romanian up-and-coming lucky loser Gabriela Ruse in straight sets to advance to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia third round.

It felt like an ever-improving performance by the world number one and defending champion, who struggled a little on serve in the first set, before putting on an impressive performance that let Ruse win only 3 games. The 6-3 6-0 victory was the 24th consecutive success for the Pole, who took a break after the success in Stuttgart to recharge the batteries and find the right motivation and mindset for the clay season.

I’m pretty proud I could get into the rhythm today, just take some lessons during the match and improve my game, game by game. Yeah, that was pretty solid match for me”, she analysed at the end of the match, which included the 12th 6-0 of her season: “I think she’s playing really solid tennis. I could feel that today on my racquet, that she could really give back some strong hits”.

In order to book a spot in the final eight of this year’s edition of the tournament, Swiatek will be facing former world number one Victoria Azarenka and she’s expecting a fight: “I was actually talking with my coach, what’s the difference between her game on hard court and clay. For sure we’re going to analyse that. Tactically I’m going to be prepared. I’ve never even had a chance to play a practice with her on clay, so I’m not sure how the game is going to look like”.

The world number one did not look very rusty for someone who had skipped Madrid just last week. Indeed, she felt like the break was needed to make a good transition from hard court tennis to clay: “I was playing much more aggressively on hard courts. This time I needed to not, like, force myself to go more and more aggressively as I did on hard court, but more going back a little bit and playing more topspin, like touching the ball with the racquet from behind, not from the top”.

But it wasn’t just about the tactics. The break served also to find a solid mental attitude: “for me, it was all about the mentality because every year I felt like when I start playing on clay, it was like, Wow, it’s clay again, I’m so happy, finally I’m going to be able to win some matches. This year when I improved my game on hard court so well, the difference is a little bit smaller. I needed to still get pumped up by other things, get motivation from other stuff”.

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