Rome: Aryna Sabalenka ousts Danielle Collins, gets her major wish instantly fulfilled

Sabalenka beats Collins and sets up a Rome final versus Iga Swiatek.

by Dzevad Mesic
Rome: Aryna Sabalenka ousts Danielle Collins, gets her major wish instantly fulfilled
© Getty Images Sport -Dan Istitene

Aryna Sabalenka's wish from Madrid is set to instantly become a reality in Rome as the world No. 2 is set to take on Iga Swiatek in the final at Foro Italico after overcoming Danielle Collins. 

On Thursday evening, No. 2 seed Sabalenka handed a 7-5 6-2 loss to world No. 15 and recent Miami Open champion Collins 7-5 6-2. 

Before Sabalenka and Collins took to the court, world No. 1 Swiatek handled the business against Coco Gauff, beating the third-seeded American 6-4 6-3. 

Going into the Collins match, Sabalenka had on the line her maiden Rome final appearance and also another meeting in a final versus Swiatek. 

Just two weeks ago, Sabalenka fell just short to Swiatek in a thriller Madrid final as the Pole claimed a 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7) win. After failing to convert three championship points in just over three hours of play and falling to a 1-3 record in her finals versus Swiatek, the 26-year-old Belarusian told the Pole she wanted to meet her "many more times in finals."

"I really want to see many more finals against her (Iga). I wanna see more wins than losses. But I really hope that we'll be able to increase the level every year. I'm really happy to be one of these Big 3 as you call us. It's really motivating me a lot to keep working," Sabalenka said after the Madrid final loss to Swiatek.

Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka
Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Now that Sabalenka has handled the business against Collins, she has her wish fulfilled. 

How Sabalenka beat Collins?

Early in the first set, Sabalenka saved a break point in the third game before getting the opening break of the match in the fourth game. After failing to realize an early break point and then dropping her serve, Collins managed to bounce back and get the break back in the seventh game. 

However, Sabalenka also managed to stay calm after blowing an early break as the Belarusian served out the 11th game for a 6-5 lead before breaking Collins in the following game - the game in which the American was serving to stay in the first set. 

After winning the last two games of the first set, Sabalenka also won the opening three games of the second set for a 3-0 lead. Up by a set and a break and leading 5-2 in the second set, Sabalenka broke Collins again in the eighth game to complete her two-set win.

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka © Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

How Swiatek overcame Gauff?

At the start of the match, Gauff faced some early pressure but she managed to save two break points in the opening game before earning the first break of the match in the following game for a 2-0 lead. 

Down by an early break, top-seeded Swiatek didn't panic as she managed to instantly get the break back in the third game. Then in the seventh game, Swiatek had two consecutive break points but failed to realize as Gauff went 4-3 up. 

Swiatek may have failed to go up by a break in the seventh game but she managed to do so in the ninth game and open a 5-4 lead before routinely serving out for the first set in the following game after realizing her first set point.

Through the opening four games of the second set, not a single break point was seen. Then in the fifth game, Swiatek earned the first break point of the second set and converted it to go up by a break and a set. 

Two games later, Swiatek came close to going up by a set and a double break but Gauff managed to keep it a one-break distance after saving two break points in the seventh game. Then in the eighth game, Gauff had a chance to completely get back into the second set but she missed out on two break points as Swiatek opened a 5-3 lead. 

Up by a set and leading 5-3 in the second set, Swiatek broke Gauff again in the ninth game - the game in which the American tennis star was serving to stay in the match.

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport -Dan Istitene

"For sure I'm excited and happy already with the tournament. I really enjoyed playing today, as well. I'm just proud of myself," Swiatek said after beating Gauff.

Now, Sabalenka and Swiatek are set for their 11th meeting and the 22-year-old Pole leads their head-to-head 7-3 going into the Rome final. When it comes to their clay meetings, this will be the sixth time that Sabalenka and Swiatek are meeting on the dirt. On clay, Swiatek has four wins and one defeat versus Sabalenka.

It remains to be seen if Sabalenka can upset Swiatek for her first Rome title.


Aryna Sabalenka Danielle Collins Iga Swiatek