Rampant Swiatek hammers Azarenka in Rome

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Defending champion Iga Swiatek recovered from a poor start to defeat Victoria Azarenka and reach the quarter-finals of the Italian Open in Rome, extending her winning streak to 25 matches.

The world No.1, bidding for a fifth consecutive title, began the match with a slew of errors on Thursday and trailed 3-0, but battled back to claim a 6-4 6-1 victory.

The first set alone took 79 minutes, with Swiatek saving eight of the 11 break points she faced, but the Pole found her form in the second to move through to an intriguing clash with Bianca Andreescu.

"For sure I didn't start well, and everybody could see that," admitted Swiatek.

"But I'm really happy with the way I reacted and how I improved in the first set.

"Also how different the second set looked to the first one because I could really reset and really change the way I played. That's the most positive thing for me."

The last player to win more consecutive matches than Swiatek was Serena Williams, who had a streak of 27 in a row over 2014 and 2015.

"It doesn't really matter for me because every match is different," Swiatek shrugged.

"In many matches, I struggled this season, even though I won them. Anything can happen. Every match is a different story."

Her run makes her outstanding favourite to win a second French Open, which gets under way in 10 days.

When Swiatek won at Roland Garros in 2020 she was ranked No.54, making her the lowest-ranked woman to win the Paris major in the Open era.

Former US Open champion Andreescu missed the start of this season after struggling with the mental toll of breakthrough success as a teenager but remains a major talent and is having her best week since reaching the final of the Miami Open more than a year ago.

The Canadian, now 21, defeated Croatian Petra Martic 6-4 6-4 while third seed Aryna Sabalenka, another player struggling for form recently, impressed in a 6-1 6-4 win over Madrid finalist Jessica Pegula.

Jil Teichmann beat Elena Rybakina 6-7 (7-3) 6-3 7-5 in a match that lasted more than three hours.

In an all-American battle, Amanda Anisimova emerged a 6-2 6-2 winner over Danielle Collins, while fourth seed Maria Sakkari defeated Coco Gauff 6-4 7-5.

Daria Kasatkina knocked second seed Paula Badosa out with a 6-4 6-4 victory.

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