Everything you need to know ahead of 2024 Rome Open Women's Final between Swiatek and Sabalenka

Saturday, 18 May 2024 at 15:16
Only two weeks after Iga Swiatek won the Madrid Open for the first time defeating the defending champion, Aryna Sabalenka. We are here again with the Rome Open final on Saturday set to feature the top two in the world once more.
Our preview looks ahead to the tie including their route, main talking points and Head to Head in what is aside from next week's smaller level tournaments, the last action before Roland Garros.

Sublime Swiatek continues love affair with Rome

For Iga Swiatek, the love affair with Rome is very much a long term one. Her favourite dessert is Tiramisu and she is often cited in interviews as saying that despite of course having to maintain an athletes lifestyle that she indulges in the dessert while in Rome.
She even posted an Instagram some five years ago after losing in qualifying saying that the silver lining to losing was that she could stay and eat tiramisu. It was a different complexion when she did break out and started to lead the sport in the following years. For Swiatek, it is history in a multitude of facets awaiting. She could seal the Rome title for a third time, she could also become the third woman and first since Serena Williams to sweep Madrid and Rome in one season.
It is also history between the pair. For the first time in the history of the Rome Open, we get the final between the top two in the world. The men's tournament as it is at the moment sums up the difference between the two tours at the moment. The three leading the women's game and even four featuring Coco Gauff are always in the latter end.
This not a matter that would've been the case a few years ago with different winners aplenty. While the men's features injuries galore with Zverev, Tabilo, Jarry and Paul in the semi-finals. For more consistency, the women's game has it and Swiatek certainly does.
Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka are set to continue their rivalry on Saturday. An 11th career meeting awaits.
The World No.1 had her position as top dog under threat from Sabalenka after the Australian Open. But amid potential question marks produced as usual as she found her level again. Winning in Doha, only being stopped in Dubai by a superb Anna Kalinskaya, she also won at Indian Wells and Madrid. Ticking off the latter was important given that it has provided a stumbling block. It also ticked off an important title off the list as she has now swept up all the big clay court titles. She also has form for a rampant win in Rome.
Two years ago, she was dishing out bagels for fun including in the final when she ran through Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0 and went on to win Roland Garros from there. During 2024's edition, she hasn't lost a set and aside from Angelique Kerber has been barely troubled.
Ironically given that Kerber has not been on form all year that she is the one to give her the most grief. But the chips fell well with Madison Keys and Coco Gauff back-to-back. Two players who have poor records against the Pole and Gauff now sits at 10-1 down. She also defeated Yulia Putintseva and Bernarda Pera.
With the back-to-back nature of these Masters 1000 tournaments, it could be construed that players will struggle to replicate. Andrey Rublev is case and point, but Swiatek has shown that if you want the Queen of Clay moniker, it has to be ripped away.

Superb Sabalenka injured but fighting till the end

But in reality, it is a final that may not have happened at all. Aryna Sabalenka was fairly open that she had a lower back injury after her win over Elina Svitolina which made her win over Danielle Collins all the more impressive.
Sabalenka sealed the win 7-5, 6-2 in the end to reach the final after priorly taking care of Jelena Ostapenko, Svitolina, Dayana Yastremska and Katie Volynets so a pretty tough route through in comparison to Swiatek. Especially given that she went a set down to Volynets and to Svitolina.
But it will be about revenge for Sabalenka, she lost out to Swiatek in Madrid as the Pole thwarted her chances of a three peat. "That match definitely hurt me," Sabalenka said. "It was a really tough loss, especially after having some match points, even though she played great tennis. Hopefully here in Rome I can get the win and get the title."
Sabalenka will look to become only the second player to stop the clay dominance of Swiatek twice.
Sabalenka and Swiatek will meet for the 11th time in their careers. Albeit Swiatek has a fair edge over the pair, she leads their Head to Head 7-3 and has won their last two meetings. Sabalenka's three wins have all gone a full three sets. Her most recent win came in Madrid last year which was a first on clay. But it is also the first time that she has made back-to-back WTA 1000 finals in her career.
It would also be a resurgence for Sabalenka title wise who hasn't sealed a title since winning the Australian Open in January. As well as keeping Coco Gauff from the door so to speak who has been on the verge of taking over World No.2 going into Roland Garros. But she has been thwarted in every step of the way by the Belarusian continuing her great form. Adding this amount of point would help going into Roland Garros.
She defends semi-final points there after losing to Karolina Muchova last year and it could yet be a final that is played at Roland Garros. Swiatek goes into Saturday's final leading the tour in match wins and could lead in titles too. It could be a fourth WTA 1000 title of the season and 21st overall. Sabalenka could seal a 15th career title and tick off a clay milestone. She would join Elena Rybakina as the only two players to have beaten Swiatek twice on clay.

Verdict from both players

Ahead of the match, Swiatek isn't taking much stock about their previous meetings. "Honestly, I don't think it makes sense to think about these two matches [Madrid and Rome] as one continuing story because it's a totally different tournament. Well, different week, as well. It's not like it's going to be the same.
"I'll try to be in the present, not really think about Madrid. Obviously I need to analyze this match in terms of the tactics. Not too much, as well, because it was pretty tight. I think we both could have done some things better."
While Sabalenka won't let that defeat get her down. "If I'm going to get to the point when I'm going to stay there with the match point, I'm going to go a little bit more aggressive. I'll just go. I'll trust myself and go for shots instead of trying to keep in the point, just keep the ball back in. Instead of play safe, I would just go for it.
"I think the level is there, the tennis is there, that I got everything to get this win. I just have to focus on myself, I guess, and not rush things, wait for the right shot to finish the point."

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