Two impressive streaks kept being alive after the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia of Rome: world number one and defending champion Iga Swiatek battled for one set with Bianca Andreescu before sailing through the second for a 7-6 6-0 win. Ons Jabeur had to find one of her Houdini tricks to comeback from 6-1 5-2 30-0 down to Maria Sakkari to upset the Greek and claim her 10th consecutive victory.
Swiatek suffered the variations and changes of pace of the Canadian in the first set, but eventually found the key to turn the match to her favour: “Even though the first set was pretty tight, I had some ups and downs, I feel like I could play well in important moments and break back anytime. I’m pretty happy that also the second set was more solid because it shows that I’m just, I don’t know, learning my lessons throughout the whole match, I’m playing better and better”.
The fact that she has not lost a single match since February could start to become a toll on her mind, but Swiatek reflected on how much she has improved mentally since the past years to know how to manage the situation.
“I needed time to learn how to do that properly, how to use the streak or ranking to put pressure on my opponents”, she explained, emphasising on the role that her team has on this: “I feel like I’ve done that pretty well last season and this season at the beginning, just learning how to use it in a positive way. Last year when I had better ranking, it felt like it’s something that’s pressuring me down. This time it’s totally different. I’m pretty happy that my team, that Daria, for sure, we worked hard to change my mindset toward that. I’m pretty proud of our work”.
Between her and a back-to-back final in Rome, there will be Aryna Sabalenka, whose love for the city has helped her turning the season around. Looking as good as rarely this year, the Minsk-born found her first ever success against Amanda Anisimova in five matches and will pose a different threat than in the past two encounters they had this year, or so is felt by Swiatek: “Here I feel like it’s the slowest surface on tour. For sure I need to adjust. When I think about my opponent, I don’t really have a vision of how they play on clay because I didn’t watch their matches. That’s the only, like, problem that I have towards that comparing to hard court”.
The 10th consecutive victory of Ons Jabeur was not an easy one, as she had to turn a bad day around very quickly when she found herself two points from losing: “In my head at 5-2 I said, You cannot finish those two weeks, those amazing almost three weeks, like this. That’s what got me started. I started putting more balls on court, playing smarter, in the end a little better too. I’m very happy that I could get the win at the end”.
Having a winning streak open is also not a reason to feel the pressure for the Tunisian, as she wants to dig deep to find her limits: “to back up the performance from Madrid, it’s very important for me. Like I said, it’s one of the reasons why I’m here, why I want to continue showing myself on the court. It’s part of maybe the journey. I told you I want to win a Grand Slam, so maybe I have to go through this to be able to win one Grand Slam. For now I’m doing it right. Different test from each match. Hopefully I can still continue. Only two matches left. I want to give more than 100% and hopefully I will be ready”.
For a place in the final, the Madrid champion will have to battle past Daria Kasatkina, who is recovering from Covid and finding her groove again. After a high quality set, the quarter-final was sadly ended abrupted by a left thigh injury from Jil Teichmann.