World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka breezed in to the semi-finals of the Italian Open meaning the top three ranked women will feature in the semi-finals of an event for the time since 2013.

The incredible wait dates back to the French Open some 11 years ago, where Serena Williams claimed another Grand Slam title by beating Maria Sharapova. Now, in Rome, Sabalenka is waiting to discover her semi-final opponent whilst top seed Iga Swiatek will take on Coco Gauff, the World No 3, in her semi.

Women's tennis has continued to see surprise winners whilst top seeds have often underperformed at the biggest tournaments. In Rome though, for the first time in a WTA event of 250 level or higher, the top three are all in with a shot of victory.

Swiatek, known for her prowess on clay, is favourite to claim a third title at the Italian event after making light work of Maddison Keys in the last eight. The Pole won in Rome back in 2021 and then backed it up a year later. Swiatek is also eyeing a fourth French Open title as she continued her preparation for the season's second slam.

Gauff meanwhile, the US Open champion, won her quarter-final in straight sets and now has the task of trying to down Swiatek. Sabalenka, herself a two-time Grand Slam champion, will face compatriot Victoria Azarenka or American 13th seed Danielle Collins in the last four in Rome.

The Belarusian said: "With this amazing atmosphere and with this amazing support - that's why I'm super motivated here and that's why I always say that this is the dream tournament for me to win.

"I really enjoy playing here so I don't have to think about being focused. I'm just here enjoying it and doing everything I can to win every point I play no matter what the score. I guess that's the key."

Women's tennis is now enjoying a dominant set of players who are consistently in the latter stages of tournaments. Swiatek has won three of the nine Grand Slams since the beginning of 2022. During the same time period Sabalenka claimed two and reached at least the semi-final on five occasions.

It hails back to an era over a decade ago when the same names consistently challenged for Grand Slams. Williams was the dominant force, often topping the world rankings and claiming titles, but she was regularly challenged by similar faces.

Sharapova, despite her poor record against the American, consistently made final and claimed title. Azarenka, then at the start of her career, was also a formidable opponent as she claimed successive Australian Open crowns.

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2024-05-15T14:46:24Z dg43tfdfdgfd