STUTTGART, Germany -- World No.1 Iga Swiatek will put her 22-match winning streak on the line against No.4 Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix on Sunday. 

Swiatek booked a spot in her fourth straight final with a marathon win over Liudmila Samsonova, winning 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5 in 3 hours and 3 minutes. Though she has spent the last month posting dominant straight-set wins, Swiatek's competitive resiliency shone through to notch a sixth comeback victory of the season. She has yet to lose a match this season after dropping the first set and forcing a decider.

"I honestly hate losing but I don't think that's a proper thing to motivate you," Swiatek said. "Basically, you just don't want to give up. It's just natural for me and for other players. We were born to fight and to not give up. Before it was pretty hard for me to do that because it was hard to find solutions when my head was all over the emotions. 

"Now I feel like I can control them, maybe not perfectly, but at least in those important moments and find solutions and come back to a good game again."

While Swiatek continues to ride her sublime streak, Sabalenka has leveled up this week in Stuttgart, notching a trio of resurgent wins over Bianca Andreescu, Anett Kontaveit, and Paula Badosa in the semifinals to make her first final of the year. 

The two have split their two prior meetings, but Sunday's showdown will be their first on clay. 

Three things to know ahead of the Stuttgart final:

1. Swiatek surprised Sabalenka in Doha

Both prior meetings between Swiatek and Sabalenka took place on hard courts, with Sabalenka winning at the WTA Finals last fall 2-6, 6-2, 7-5, and Swiatek avenging the loss in February, winning 6-2, 6-3 in the Doha quarterfinals. 

"[That match] gave me a lot of confidence because she was playing really hard and she's a heavy hitter," Swiatek said. "I struggled last year to win against heavy hitters. I gained confidence after that match and I kept going with the flow. I was pretty proud of myself because I felt like it was a breakthrough where I actually focused on myself and not how my opponent is playing." 

Swiatek's impressive win over Sabalenka in Doha served as the spark for her ongoing 22-match winning streak. The 20-year-old stunned Sabalenka by opting to go toe-to-toe with her from the baseline, trading power for power. 

"She played super fast and super aggressive, not the way she used to play," Sabalenka said. "In that match I was surprised at every point she was making and I think that’s why I wasn’t able to fight for this [match]. I was just like, what’s going on, what’s going on. 

"Now that she won three titles in a row, that’s not going to surprise me. I’ll be ready for this game, and I’ll be ready for a fight. The winners she’s going to make are not going to surprise me. I think mentally that’s going to give me a little power to compete, no matter what."

Doha: Swiatek bests Sabalenka to reach 1st hard-court WTA 1000 SF

2022 Doha

How Swiatek opts to tactically play Sunday's final remains to be seen. She is in Stuttgart without coach Tomasz Wiktorowski or sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz. But the three have been in constant contact via phone throughout the week.

"Tomorrow is a different match and a different story," Swiatek said. "Tactically we have to prepare because every detail counts against players like that."

2. Sabalenka has found her mojo this week

After a sub-par start to the season, Sabalenka is into her first final of the season and second in Stuttgart. Finalist last year, Sabalenka arrived in Stuttgart having made just one quarterfinal this season. But the conditions at the Porsche Arena suit Sabalenka's power game well.

Sabalenka isn't a natural clay courter like Swiatek, but she's tapped into the confidence she built here last year. Stuttgart was her first clay-court final and she parlayed that into her first clay title two weeks later, where she avenged her loss to Barty to win Madrid. 

This week, Sabalenka has come through three tough opponents, defeating Bianca Andreescu in three sets before leveling up to score back-to-back Top 10 wins over Anett Kontaveit in the quarterfinals and Paula Badosa in the semifinals. She won't be short of belief on Sunday.

"I think with every win you get stronger and stronger, like mentally. And you kind of have this confidence that no matter what you can come back, you can find your game. I think I had two really good matches before Paula. They gave me some confidence and I think because I had it I was able to kind of turn it around."

3. Swiatek playing pressure-free

When any athlete, let alone tennis players, gets on a hot streak, there's an immediate impulse to replicate the formula, down to the very last detail. So it was surprising when Swiatek rolled into her Stuttgart debut with a 19-match winning streak without the full team that was by her side through Doha, Indian Wells, and Miami. 

But the decision also provides some critical insight into the 20-year-old's mindset. Swiatek isn't stressing about her streak or worried, one way or another, that it may end. As Abramowicz told WTA Insider after Miami, the team had done a lot of mental work to accept that a loss will come, while ingraining the drive to keep the performance level high.

"It didn't really matter that I had the streak," Swiatek said after her tough win over Samsonova. "I didn't think about that, honestly. I thought she was playing really good and if she wins, she'd deserve it."

Swiatek is now into her sixth semifinal of the season and going for her fourth straight title. She tops the tour's leaderboard in wins (29 on the Hologic WTA Tour), titles (3), and three-set victories (8). In doing so, she has more than consolidated and underlined her position at the top of the game. 

There's a solid argument to be made that, just four months into the season, Swiatek is playing with house money. 

"It's weird to say, but I was ok with the result, the semifinals. At the beginning, if someone would say, 'Hey, you're going to be in the semifinals,' I would take it for sure because I didn't have much time to transition [from hard court]. 

"I'm pretty proud of what I achieved, even if I lose tomorrow. So it doesn't really matter for me. I can play without the pressure and I have nothing to lose still, even though the streak is getting bigger and bigger."