Swiatek gets off to perfect start in Italian Open

tennis12 May 2023 15:54| © AFP
Iga Swiatek © Getty Images

Iga Swiatek started her bid to win her third straight Italian Open title in perfect fashion on Friday, not dropping a game in her straight-sets thrashing of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

World No 1 Swiatek looked in exceptional form as she demolished Pavlyuchenkova 6-0, 6-0 in just over an hour to ease her way into the third round in Rome.

Losing finalist in Madrid last weekend, Swiatek looked in great form in the tournament she won last year before going on to blitz the French Open even though she is still shaking off a rib injury suffered at Indian Wells.

"I still may feel some discomfort, but it is really, really low. Even when I withdrew from Miami, the pain was low. It was just the risk of getting it worse that stopped me," Swiatek told reporters.

"I wouldn't say my physicality is stopping me. I came back quickly and I kind of missed only one tournament. I think overall it's pretty positive."

Swiatek now faces either Bernarda Pera or Lesia Tsurenko in the last 32 after extending her winning streak in the Italian capital to 12 matches.

The only real resistance from Pavlyuchenkova, who reached the final of Roland Garros two years ago, came in the final game of the first set, when she saved six set points from 0-40 down on her serve.

Swiatek eventually came through that game and swept Pavlyuchenkova aside in the second set, finishing the job against the serve with her first match point.

Fourth seed Ons Jabeur fell 6-1, 6-4 to Paula Badosa, last year's finalist being eliminated in her first match to leave the women's tournament without another big name.

Jabeur joins world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka, third-ranked Jessica Pegula and 2019 winner Karolina Pliskova in being dumped out in the second round.

The 28-year-old has had calf problems in recent weeks, an injury which caused her to retire in the semifinals at Stuttgart and not defend her Madrid title.

Badosa will face world number 27 Marta Kostyuk in the third round.