ROME -- World No.1 Iga Swiatek kicked off her title defense at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the second round on Friday. Swiatek will face either Bernarda Pera or Lesia Tsurenko in the third round.
A two-time defending champion in Rome, Swiatek extended her win streak in the Eternal City to 12 consecutive matches. She is the sixth woman in the Open Era to win 12 or more consecutive matches in Rome, joining Chris Evert, Conchita Martinez, Gabriela Sabatini, Maria Sharapova, and Serena Williams.
Including her 6-0, 6-0 win over Karolina Pliskova in the 2021 final, Swiatek has now posted two perfect scorelines in Rome. Along with Chris Evert, she is just the second player to have multiple 6-0, 6-0 wins in Rome. Since the introduction of the WTA-1000 level in 2009, only Simona Halep has posted more 6-0 sets at this level (7) than Swiatek (6).
"When I'm playing these kind of matches, I'm just trying to be focused," Swiatek said. "It's actually pretty hard to be focused when you are really thinking [about the score]. So I'm trying to remember what got me this nice score, what I should do to continue playing that well. I just want to be consistent in it.
"In my opinion, the score doesn't really matter and it doesn't have any influence on my feeling on the court. I'm just trying to play my best tennis no matter what the score is."
How the match was won: In the first-time meeting between Swiatek and Pavlyuchenkova, Swiatek managed the windy conditions at the Foro Italico to ease herself to the win. Pavlyuchenkova earned her spot in the second round after posting just her second main-draw singles win of an injury-addled season, defeating Sara Errani 6-1, 6-1 in the first round.
Swiatek utilized her kick-serve well to keep Pavlyuchenkova at bay on her own service games. Pavlyuchenkova, herself a Roland Garros finalist in 2021, played a tactically smart match but struggled to consistently land her finishing shots. Her one break point in the match came at 4-0 in the opening set. Pavlyuchenkova did well to open up space for a forehand down the line but fired it long. Swiatek went on to hold.
Down 5-0, Pavlyuchenkova gamely saved six set points from 0-40 down on her serve, but the World No.1's relentless return game finally broke through to seal her tour-leading ninth 6-0 set of the season.
Swiatek's ruthless march continued in the second set, as she ran the table to close out the win after 67 minutes.
Match stats: Swiatek's clean performance was clearly reflected in the post-match numbers. She hit 19 winners to just nine unforced errors in the match. She generated 11 break-point chances and converted six of them, while saving the one break point she faced on her serve. Pavlyuchenkova finished with seven winners to 19 unforced errors. in total, Swiatek won 57 points to Pavlyuchenkova's 29.
12-1 - Iga Swiatek is the female player with the joint-most main draw wins at the Internazionali d'Italia in the Open Era after her first 13 matches (12 - level with Evert, Sabatini, Hingis and Seles). Host.#IBI23 | @InteBNLdItalia @WTA @WTA_insider @iga_swiatek— OptaAce (@OptaAce) May 12, 2023