Swiatek's clay masterclass could see her replicate Serena's iconic milestone

Monday, 20 May 2024 at 05:00
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Iga Swiatek could match Serena Williams in a significant milestone after winning consecutive titles at the Madrid Open and Rome Open. The clay swing continues to bring great results for the world No. 1, who secured both WTA 1000 clay titles last month, defeating No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in both finals.
The 22-year-old Pole became the third female player to achieve the 'Dirtball Double,' winning both Madrid and Rome in the same season, traditionally played in consecutive weeks. Swiatek now has the chance for another feat, as she is on track for a possible triplet if she triumphs at Roland Garros, a feat only previously achieved by Williams.

Swiatek Eyes Triple Crown in Paris

The world No. 1 holds an impressive 38-4 record in 2024 and is on a 12-match winning streak (14-1 on clay this year). Swiatek is the player to beat at the upcoming French Open, where she has won three of her four Grand Slam titles and is the defending champion, having defeated Karolina Muchova in the 2023 final 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.
After securing the 'Dirtball Double' last Saturday, Swiatek joined Dinara Safina and Serena Williams as the only female players to win both trophies consecutively. In 2009, the Russian defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova in Rome and Caroline Wozniacki in Madrid, while Williams achieved it in 2013 with victories over Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, respectively.
However, only Williams managed to also win the French Open, defeating the defending champion Sharapova in the final 6-4, 6-4. Safina came close but lost to Kuznetsova, who avenged her Rome final defeat a month earlier.
Swiatek conquered her first Rome Open beating Sabalenka 6-2, 6-3.
On the ATP Tour, two other players have achieved the Dirtball Double: Rafael Nadal (2010, 2013) and Novak Djokovic (2011), with only Nadal adding the French Open title in the same season. When asked if she knew how many players had won in Madrid, Rome, and Roland Garros in the same year, Swiatek shyly responded, "Rafa?"
Before 2009, the WTA calendar was different, and the Madrid Open was not yet a WTA 1000 event. Its position was occupied by the German Open, making the triplet comparable to Steffi Graf's 1987 achievements, with victories over Gabriela Sabatini in Rome, Claudia Kohde-Kilsch in Germany, and Martina Navratilova in Paris. Monica Seles repeated this feat in 1990, defeating Navratilova in Rome and winning the finals in Berlin and Roland Garros against Graf.
Despite being the clear favourite at Roland Garros, Swiatek downplayed her chances: "Well, I’m No. 1 so I’m the favourite everywhere if you look at rankings. But rankings don’t play, so…” she said. “I’ll do everything step by step and we’ll see.”

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