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Jabeur saves matchpoint to tee up Swiatek final in Rome

Jabeur saves matchpoint to tee up Swiatek final in Rome

STATS Perform/dpa
Berlin
Daria Kasatkina had progress to the Internazionali d’Italia final in her grasp, but Ons Jabeur struck back to set up a showdown with Iga Swiatek.
World number one Swiatek saw off Aryna Sabalenka in Saturday’s other semi-final, and it is Tunisia’s Jabeur who will meet her on Sunday.
Jabeur had to do things the hard way, saving a matchpoint in the deciding set before going on to prevail 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
The victory is Jabeur’s 11th in a row and sends the 27-year-old into her second final in the space of a week following her win in Madrid.
Jabeur started strong with an immediate break of serve, yet Kasatkina stubbornly fought back with two breaks of her own.
However, a slip up from the Russian at 3-1 up allowed Jabeur to drag herself back into the set before she broke again to win it.
The momentum swung the other way as Kasatkina dominated the second set to force a decider, in which Jabeur’s steel was on full show as she sealed a fourth straight win over the world number 23 with a sublime drop-shot.
Jabeur has now won 17 matches on clay in 2022, more than any other player on the WTA Tour, while she is the first to reach three finals on dirt in the same season since Simona Halep did so in 2017.
Should she overcome Swiatek - who is herself on a remarkable 27-match winning run - Jabeur will become the third player to win the Madrid and Rome titles in a single year. Dinara Safina in 2009 and Serena Williams in 2013 are the others to have managed that feat.
Swiatek had reached the final in much easier fashin 6-2, 6-1 over Sabalenka.
The pair exchanged opening breaks in a tentative start to the clash in the Italian capital before Sabalenka again failed to hold her serve as Pole Swiatek took an early 3-1 lead.
World number eight Sabalenka, the third seed in the tournament, offered little response as the in-form Swiatek then claimed the first set with ease.
Sabalenka was again caught cold and had no answer as world number one Swiatek raced out the blocks in the second set, breaking twice via marathon rallies, to gain a 4-0 lead.
Swiatek swiftly wrapped victory up, despite a short medical time out for her opponent, and has now won all three of her WTA Tour encounters with Sabalenka in 2022, conceding just 12 games in the process.
Meanwhile, in the last 25 years only Serena Williams in 2013, Kim Clijsters in 2003 and Martina Hingis in 1998 have reached the final in Rome with fewer games dropped than Iga Swiatek this season (17).
The 20-year-old Swiatek continues on her quest for a fourth straight WTA 1000 crown and fifth consecutive title.

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