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Swiatek beats Sabalenka to win second straight Stuttgart title

Swiatek eased past her second-ranked Belarusian opponent 6-3, 6-4 on clay in one hour and 50 minutes
Poland’s Iga Swiatek jumps in the air as she celebrates with the trophy after the Women’s Tennis Grand Prix WTA tournament final match against Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka )not in picture) in Stuttgart, south-western Germany, on April 23, 2023. AFP
Poland’s Iga Swiatek jumps in the air as she celebrates with the trophy after the Women’s Tennis Grand Prix WTA tournament final match against Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka )not in picture) in Stuttgart, south-western Germany, on April 23, 2023. AFP

World number one Iga Swiatek defeated Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets to win her second consecutive Stuttgart title on Sunday.

Swiatek eased past her second-ranked Belarusian opponent 6-3, 6-4 on the clay in one hour and 50 minutes.

A first tournament triumph since February will give Swiatek a confidence boost ahead of her French Open title defence in May.

“I wanted to win really, really hard, but I knew that I can’t really focus on that and just I have to keep doing my job as I did in previous matches,” she said.

“I’m pretty happy that I could kind of have a good mentality and just focus on what I want to do tennis-wise.”

Sunday’s match was a repeat of last year’s final in Stuttgart, which Swiatek also won in dominant fashion, 6-2, 6-2.

She has now sat atop the WTA rankings for more than a year and is a red-hot favourite for another title at Roland Garros.

The US Open champion broke serve late in the first set, taking advantage of an uncharacteristic miss from Sabalenka.

Swiatek broke again in the opening game of the second, after which notable frustration began to creep into the world number two’s game.

Sabalenka made a number of unforced errors, allowing Swiatek to gain control of the match.

Swiatek converted her first match point with a smooth backhand to chalk up another impressive victory.

The 21-year-old came into the match fresh after playing just 18 minutes of Saturday’s semi-final before her opponent Ons Jabeur retired hurt.

Sabalenka beat Anastasia Potapova 6-1, 6-2 on Saturday.

Swiatek is the first player to win back-to-back Stuttgart titles since Angelique Kerber in 2015 and 2016.

Swiatek now holds a 5-2 record against Sabalenka and has won all eight of her matches on the Stuttgart clay.

It was the first time a world number one had faced the world number two on clay since the 2013 French Open final, when Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova.

Sabalenka has lost her past three Stuttgart finals, two of which have been played against Swiatek. The Belarusian lost the 2021 final to Australia’s Ashleigh Barty.

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Iga Swiatek

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Aryna Sabalenka

Australian Open final