Swiatek, Djokovic conquer Rome

Top seeds arrive to Roland-Garros with confidence-boosting triumphs at the Foro Italico

Iga Swiatek, Rome trophy 2022© Ray Giubilo/FFT
 - By Reem Abulleil

World No.1s Iga Swiatek and Novak Djokovic reigned supreme in Rome on Sunday, claiming straight-set wins over Ons Jabeur and Stefanos Tsitsipas in their respective finals.

Both top seeds will come to Roland-Garros high on confidence, with Swiatek chasing a second triumph on Parisian clay and Djokovic looking to defend his crown.

Iga the unstoppable

The 2020 Roland-Garros champion has walked away with the winner's trophy in each of her last five tournaments and is just the second player -- behind Serena Williams -- to clinch four WTA 1000 titles in one season.

The 20-year-old Pole extended her winning streak to 28 consecutive matches and further cemented her status as the ultimate favourite in Paris later this month.

Closing out a week in which she defeated the likes of Victoria Azarenka, Bianca Andreescu and Aryna Sabalenka, Swiatek overcame Madrid champion Jabeur 6-2, 6-2 in 82 minutes to successfully defend her Rome title.

Swiatek hasn't lost a match since falling in a final-set tiebreak to Jelena Ostapenko in the last-16 stage in Dubai in February, and has since picked up trophies in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and now Rome.

"It's pretty hard to describe it 'cause all these tournaments that I've won seem pretty surreal right now. I feel like just continuing the same things that I did before really was the key to that," the world No.1 told reporters in Rome on Sunday.

Iga Swiatek, Rome 2022 final, Italian Open© Ray Giubilo/FFT

Swiatek is the first player to win 28 matches in a row on the WTA tour since Serena Williams picked up 34 victories on the trot in 2013.

In the final on Sunday, Swiatek dug herself out of a 0-40 hole while serving at 4-2 in the second set and sank to her knees in disbelief when Jabeur netted a backhand on match point.

"I just felt huge relief. It's also not easy to play against Ons," explained Swiatek.

"I felt like every game was really tight. She played great tennis, especially changing the rhythm in second set, it was pretty smart. I wanted to be even smarter.

"Coming back from this 0-40 game in second set was emotionally also tough. It was hard for me to switch the modes to be more focused and play the same kind of tennis I played before."

Swiatek has clearly separated herself from the chasing pack and plans on celebrating tonight with lots of tiramisu. "No regrets," she added with a laugh.

On her part, world No.7 Jabeur takes plenty of positives from her clay-court campaign in the build-up to Roland-Garros.

A former junior champion on Parisian clay back in 2011, the 27-year-old Tunisian showed incredible resilience to win the biggest title of her career in Madrid earlier this month, before marching towards the Rome final.

In Rome, she climbed from 1-6, 2-5 down against Maria Sakkari in the quarter-finals and saved match point against Daria Kasatkina in the semis.

She flies to Paris ranked No.2 behind Swiatek in the WTA Race and as one of the top contenders behind the dominant Pole.

"A lot of things to learn from this match, obviously. Pretty glad with the week I had here in Rome. Iga is the No.1 for a reason. She's really the leader here on tour. I personally have a lot to learn from her," said the gracious Jabeur.

Novak finds his game

Djokovic secured his sixth Rome title with a clinical 6-0, 7-6(5) success over Greek world No.5 Tsitsipas on Sunday.

The 20-time major champion may have had doubts about his form at the start of the clay-court season but has now squashed any doubts as he lifted a record-extending 38th Masters 1000 trophy.

The Serb, who joined the 1000 match-wins club with his semi-final victory on Saturday, did not drop a set en route to the title at the Foro Italico.

With just 16 matches contested in 2022, Djokovic acknowledges he is short on match play but is thrilled to have hit his best form on the eve of Roland-Garros.

"To some extent it's a relief because after everything that happened at the beginning of the year, was important for me to win a big title, especially with Grand Slams coming up where obviously I want to play my best and be at the level of confidence I think more than just the game, where I want to be in order to have a chance to win the title," said Djokovic, who turns 35 next week.

In a rematch of last year's Roland-Garros final, Tsitsipas was up a break in the second set against Djokovic on Sunday, but couldn't serve it out as the world No.1 elevated his level when he needed to, to force a tiebreak and wrap up the win in straights.

Despite his defeat, Tsitsipas can be confident about his level heading into Paris, having defended his title in Monte-Carlo, made semis in Madrid and now the final in Rome.

"It's a marathon that I have to run," said Tsitsipas looking ahead.

Novak Djokovic Stefanos Tsitsipas Italian Open 2022 Rome final© Ray Giubilo/FFT

"Roland-Garros is a marathon Grand Slam. Every Grand Slam is a marathon Grand Slam, but specifically Roland-Garros. It really takes the most out of you spiritually and physically when you're out on the court. Clay court has this ability to really squeeze every single part of you. You have to leave it, your all, out there.

"I'm ready to get a few days of rest and start practising again to get into that Roland-Garros mindset. I enjoy playing in this city. I really hope my tennis allows me to go deep this year."