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Iga Swiatek powers to another final victory against Aryna Sabalenka in Rome

Iga Swiatek poses with the trophy after defeating Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the Italian Open (Alessandra Tarantino/AP/PA)
Iga Swiatek poses with the trophy after defeating Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the Italian Open (Alessandra Tarantino/AP/PA)

World number one Iga Swiatek brushed aside number two Aryna Sabalenka to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia title in Rome.

The 22-year-old Pole needed just one hour and 29 minutes to ease to a 6-2 6-3 victory over her 26-year-old Belarusian opponent on the clay to claim the crown for the third time in four years.

It was a repeat of Swiatek’s victory over Sabalenka in the Mutua Madrid Open final two weeks ago, although that proved a far more testing affair as she saved three match points before coming through a tense tie-break to complete a 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7) win.

Asked afterwards if she considers herself favourite to complete an impressive hat-trick at the French Open, she told the WTA’s official website: “Well, I’m number one, so I’m the favorite everywhere if you look at rankings.

“But rankings don’t play, so … I’ll do everything step by step and we’ll see.”

Swiatek broke to love in the third game to give herself the advantage in the first set, and it was one she never looked like surrendering as her depth of return kept Sabalenka on the back foot.

The second set proved far more testing with the world number one having to save a total of seven break points before her opponent succumbed to hand her a 4-3 lead, which ultimately proved decisive.

She said: “Overall, I try to treat these points as any other point. I’m not feeling like I’m under so much pressure. Maybe also because I know I’m a great returner, even if I’m going to get broken, I can work it out.

“I think in this tournament, my serve was kind of really helping me. All this work that we’ve been putting [in] actually paid off in those important moments.”

For Swiatek, it was 21st WTA title and her fourth this year, and it came courtesy of a ninth successful final victory.

In the process, she became just the third woman to win in Madrid and Rome in the same year after Dinara Safina in 2009 and Serena Williams in 2013.