Photograph: Getty Images
World No.1 Iga Swiatek won her fifth consecutive WTA title after defeating Ons Jabeur, 6-2, 6-2 to win the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.
The 20-year-old was an emphatic champion in Rome a year ago when she obliterated Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0 and her win on Sunday marked a successful title defence.
Much has changed between those two titles though. Swiatek is now undeniably the world’s best player, riding high on a 28-match win streak.
The Pole’s victory fittingly snapped her opponent’s 11-match win streak, which commenced with Jabeur’s run to the title in Madrid earlier this month.
"At the beginning of the tournament, I didn't know it would be possible to keep up the streak and with all the wins," Swiatek said of her week post-match.
"I'm pretty happy I did it really step by step and I just focused on the right things because I think it led to all the success this week.
Swiatek has now claimed four WTA 1000 titles this season with victories in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami and now Rome.
The 2020 French Open champion lost both meetings with Jabeur last year, but Swiatek is a different player now. She broke the Tunisian early for a 2-0 advantage and never looked back.
The world No. 7 was far from uncompetitive though. The Tunisian made headway in several Swiatek service games, but the Pole had the answers on all but one occasion.
That moment came at 4-0 in the second set when Jabeur converted on her second break point to halt Swiatek’s run of six games without loss.
The Tunisian would go on to hold to love for 4-2 before once again putting extreme pressure on the Swiatek serve.
The Pole would rally from 0-40 down, saving four break points before holding to move within a game of the title.
"I felt relief for sure because the second set, it got to a really physical game. At the end, I was just pretty tired. I'm just really happy that I could cope with all the pressure and expectations so well."
Swiatek now holds a record of 8-1 in WTA finals and is just the fourth player of this century to win five or more tournaments in succession.
Roland Garros will commence later the week and the 20-year-old will enter the tournament as the prohibitive favourite.