Crouching in return position, Iga Swiatek shut her eyes in a meditative state.
That was a brief calm before Swiatek’s second-set storm.
In a blockbuster clash of Grand Slam champions, Swiatek played eye-opening tennis beating Bianca Andreescu 7-6(2), 6-0 scoring her 26th straight victory to soar into the Rome semifinals for the second consecutive season.
The top-seeded Swiatek’s streak is the longest women’s winning streak in a decade since Victoria Azarenka reeled off 26 in a row back in 2012.
“[I feel] pretty confident honestly. I feel like every match I’m playing better and better,” Swiatek said. “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.”
World No. 1 Swiatek raised her record to 33-3 on the season, including 25 straight-sets wins and 13 bagel sets.
Next up for Swiatek is third-seeded Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in a rematch of last month’s Stuttgart final, which Swiatek swept 6-2, 6-2 taking a 2-1 lead in her head-to-head series vs. the big-hitting Belarusian.
World No. 8 Sabalenka started today’s play snapping her losing streak. Sabalenka converted seven of 10 break point chances defeating American Amanda Anisimova 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
It was the third-seeded Sabalenka’s first win in five meetings vs. world No. 32 Anisimova, whose 13 three-setters and nine three-set wins leads the WTA Tour this season.
Swiatek said conditions in Rome are much slower than the indoor court in Stuttgart where she beat Sabalenka in the final.
“Tthe Stuttgart clay was so much different,” Swiatek said. “We could actually play with the same kind of tactics like on hard court.
“Here I feel like it’s the slowest surface on tour. For sure I need to adjust. Honestly, we only have like three or four tournaments on clay, and only two of them are like on ‘normal clay’, because in Madrid there’s altitude, which is pretty crazy.”