Iga Swiatek asserts No. 1 status with win over Bianca Andreescu in Rome

ROME -- Iga Swiatek stepped up and nobody has brought her down.

Swiatek earned the No. 1 ranking in women's tennis by default two months ago when Ash Barty announced her immediate retirement. Add in Serena Williams' absence for nearly a year and there were plenty of questions about who might assert herself as the new woman to beat.

Well, since February, nobody has beaten Swiatek.

The Polish player extended her winning streak to 26 matches and reached the Italian Open semifinals after beating former U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu 7-6 (2), 6-0 on Friday.

Swiatek struggled to handle being a top-five player last year. Now she has learned how to use her recent success to intimidate.

"I needed time to learn how to do that properly, how to use the streak or ranking to put pressure on my opponents," Swiatek said. "Last year when I had [a] better ranking [than opponents], it felt like it's something that's pressuring me down. This time it's totally different."

Considering her prowess on hard courts, the often-injured Andreescu has been tossed around as a potential No. 1. But Swiatek slowly wore Andreescu down in a lengthy first set at the Foro Italico and dictated the tiebreaker by moving her opponent from side to side.

In all, Swiatek produced 27 winners to Andreescu's 12 and converted all six of her break points.

"I feel like every match I'm playing better and better," Swiatek said. "Even though the first set was pretty tight, I had some ups and downs, I feel like I could play well in important moments and break back anytime.

"I'm pretty happy that also the second set was more solid because it shows that I'm learning my lessons throughout the whole match."

Swiatek's semifinal opponent will be third-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, who rallied past Amanda Anisimova 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 for her first victory over the American in five tries.

Also advancing was recent Madrid Open champion Ons Jabeur, who rallied past Maria Sakkari, 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 for her 10th straight win. Jabeur's semifinal opponent will be Jil Teichmann or Daria Kasatkina.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.