Italian Open: Swiatek sails into third round but Jabeur beaten on return from injury

Top seed dominates Pavlyuchenkova 6-0, 6-0 while home hope Sinner cruises through in the men's draw

Iga Swiatek cruised past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach the third round of the Italian Open. AP
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Iga Swiatek began her bid for a third straight Italian Open title in devastating style on Friday as the top seed crushed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-0, 6-0 in the second round, while Ons Jabeur was defeated on her return from injury.

World No 1 Swiatek looked in exceptional form as she demolished Pavlyuchenkova in just over an hour to ease her way into the third round in Rome.

Losing finalist in Madrid last weekend, the Pole looked in great form in the tournament she won last year before going on to blitz the French Open, even though she is still shaking off a rib injury suffered at Indian Wells.

"I still may feel some discomfort, but it is really, really low. Even when I withdrew from Miami, the pain was low. It was just the risk of getting it worse that stopped me," Swiatek said.

"I wouldn't say my physicality is stopping me. I came back quickly and I kind of missed only one tournament. I think overall it's pretty positive."

The only real resistance from Pavlyuchenkova, who reached the final of Roland Garros two years ago, came in the final game of the first set, when she saved six set points from 0-40 down on her serve.

Swiatek eventually came through that game and swept Pavlyuchenkova aside in the second set, finishing the job against the serve with her first match point.

Fourth seed Jabeur fell 6-1, 6-4 to Paula Badosa as last year's finalist was eliminated in her first match back from her latest injury setback.

Ons Jabeur, right, was defeated by Paula Badosa. Getty

The Tunisian, who missed the Middle East Swing earlier this year to undergo surgery and also skipped last week's Madrid Open title defence and retired from the Stuttgart semi-finals with a calf injury, struggled to find her rhythm against the former world No 2.

Jabeur, 28, joins Madrid champion Aryna Sabalenka, third-ranked Jessica Pegula and 2019 winner Karolina Pliskova in being eliminated in the second round.

Badosa will face world No 27 Marta Kostyuk in the third round.

Sinner thrills home crowd

Earlier, Jannick Sinner cruised into the men's last 32 with a straight-sets win over Thanasi Kokkinakis, 6-1, 6-4.

World No 8 Sinner took one hour and 18 minutes to deal with Australian qualifier Kokkinakis, and will now play Russian Alexander Shevchenko, who beat Argentinian Sebastian Baez 6-3, 6-4.

Jannik Sinner was too good for Thanasi Kokkinakis in their Italian Open second-round match. AFP

"I'm happy with my level today, it was not easy, it was a little bit breezy, a bit windy," Sinner said on court.

"Especially in the second set he played a little bit better. I also had a couple of chances which I didn't use but very happy about how I served, I struck the ball very well."

Sinner, 21, did not drop a single point on his serve in a dominant first set in which the gulf in class between the Italian and Kokkinakis was painfully evident.

Kokkinakis, ranked 104 in the world, put up more of a fight in the second set but once Sinner broke in the seventh game to take the score to 4-3, it was only a matter of time before the deal was sealed.

Sinner made no mistake, serving to love in games eight and nine to ensure comfortable passage to the next round.

Rome has not seen an Italian winner of the tournament since Adriano Panatta in 1976.

With local boy Matteo Berrettini out of action again with abdominal problems, Sinner will be getting the bulk of the capital city's support, although Italian veteran Fabio Fognini thrilled the home fans with his straight-sets victory over Miomir Kecmanovic later in the day.

Sinner has had a decent season, winning in Montpellier in February and losing the finals in Miami and Rotterdam to Daniil Medvedev. He also reached the semi-finals at Indian Wells, losing to eventual winner Carlos Alcaraz.

Cameron Norrie strolled past French qualifier Alexandre Muller 6-2, 6-3 to set up a clash with Marton Fucsovics in the next round after the Hungarian beat Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4.

Updated: May 12, 2023, 6:02 PM