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Iga Swiatek rises to No. 2 world ranking with win at Indian Wells

(Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Iga Swiatek continues to dominate WTA 1000 events this season, taking down No. 6 seed Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-1 to win the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday.

Swiatek, who has now won a career-best 11 straight matches and became the first woman to reach 20 wins this season, also claimed the WTA 1000 Qatar TotalEnergies Open title in Doha last month. With her fifth career WTA Tour singles title, Swiatek rose to No. 2 in the world rankings, behind Australian Open champion Ash Barty.

“[The World No. 2 ranking is] pretty surreal for now,” Swiatek said after the match. “I have to look at it and I have to check the rankings by myself and just see it. Right now it’s too surreal to describe it, honestly. … But for sure, I want to go higher because I feel like getting No. 1 is closer and closer.”

The 20-year-old dominated the entire 80-minute match to pull even with Sakkari in their career matchup record. The two now have three wins apiece against each other.

“At the beginning of the tournament, I wouldn’t even think about winning, honestly,” Swiatek said. “Of course you have to believe in yourself, but I’m a realistic person.

“Winning after playing so well in Doha is giving me a lot of confidence and kind of belief that I can do it. … I wouldn’t think of myself as someone who’s ready to play two tournaments in a row and win it. For sure, hard work is paying off.

Despite the loss, Sakkari rose to a career-high No. 3 ranking, joining Stefanos Tisitsipas as the highest-ranked Greek players in history.

“I can’t believe there’s only two girls above me right now,” Sakkari said after the final. “Whoever followed my steps the last couple of years, they know what that means to me.

“I think I played some very, very good matches. I really believe I took a step forward this week, even though I lost today. It was a week that will have a special place in my heart. I know it sounds kind of weird because I did not win the tournament, but I felt like I improved as a player this week. I’m just going to take that with me and move forward.”