Iga Swiatek closes in on Italian Open crown and Venus Williams’s unbeaten record

World number one Iga Swiatek not only progressed to the Internazionali BNL d'Italia semi-final, but also extended her winning streak to 26 games.

Swiatek, who is the defending champion in Rome, beat Bianca Andreescu 7-6 6-0 inside one hour and 44 minutes to set up a mouth-watering semi-final encounter against Aryna Sabalenka. 

The 20-year-old has now equalled Victoria Azarenka for the number of consecutive victories on the WTA tour, and finds herself just nine games away from matching Venus Williams.

The American currently holds the record for the longest winning streak in the 21st century. The five-time Wimbledon champion won 35 matches in a row - a streak which ran from the 2000 Wimbledon event all the way to the Linz Open.

"Being in that kind of group is like a dream come true for me," Swiatek told wta.com. "I wouldn't think of that when I was younger. I'm pretty happy that I could do that because consistency was the thing I really wanted to work on last year. This year I feel like it clicked."

WTA winning streaks since 2000

Venus Williams - 35

Serena Williams - 34

Justine Henin - 32

Victoria Azarenka - 26

Iga Swiatek - 26

Swiatek tested in the opener

Poland's Iga Swiatek

Despite winning in straight sets, Swiatek was certainly given a run for her money in the opener as Andreescu took a 3-2 lead.

The Pole responded by winning the next three games, but the 20-year-old was quickly pegged back as her Canadian opponent fought hard to make it 5-5.

The set went down to a tiebreak, but despite a tense affair, Swaitek showed her class, and her cool, as she powered to a 7-2 win.

After a nail-biting opener, the second set proved far more comfortable with the Pole winning 6-0.

The current world number one revealed her pre-match preparation was the key, saying: "I wasn't really expecting anything because I didn't actually know how she's playing after the break. I watched many of her matches before she did that break. Right now I didn't know if her tennis is the same or it changed a little bit.

"But I knew that physically I can play longer rallies and also play longer matches. So basically I was ready for that. Also, I knew that she's going to change rhythm. She did that, which was pretty tricky. Just knowing that, I was just ready for it. Tactically I knew it about it, so I'm pretty happy that we prepared well."

Swiatek, who has won 38 of her last 39 sets, will now set her sights on Aryna Sabalenka in the Italian Open semi-final.

The Belarusian ended her losing run against Amanda Anisimova following a hard-fought 4-6 6-3 6-2 victory.

Sabalenka lost against the American in the 2019 editions of the Australian Open and Roland Garros. She also suffered two recent defeats on clay in Charleston and Madrid.

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