ROME — Not since Serena Williams seven years ago has another woman had such a hot streak in tennis.
Williams won the same number of consecutive matches over 2014 and 2015.
Aiming to defend her Rome title and win her fifth straight tournament, Swiatek dominated the eighth-ranked Sabalenka with a mix of power, consistency and finesse.
While she struggled with her serve at times, Swiatek, 20, was able to consistently crush both forehand and backhand winners on the slow, red-clay court at the Foro Italico. She also hit a delicate backhand half-volley winner in the final game of the first set.
Swiatek had the same number of winners and unforced errors, 15, while Sabalenka produced just eight winners and had 31 unforced errors.
The hard-hitting Sabalenka took a medical timeout late in the second set and had her back treated.
Swiatek, who was a surprise champion at the French Open in 2020 when she was ranked No. 54, will be the favorite to add a second title at Roland Garros when the year’s second Grand Slam starts next weekend.