STUTTGART: World number one Iga Swiatek cruised past Aryna Sabalenka 6-3 6-4 to win the Stuttgart Open on Sunday in a repeat of last year’s final to confirm her status as a French Open favourite. The Pole, back from injury and gearing up for her French Open title defence next month, and world number two Sabalenka traded powerful baseline blows before Swiatek earned a second breakpoint at 4-3. She whipped a superb forehand down the line to go 5-3 up before easily holding serve to clinch the first set on her second set point. Swiatek, fit again following a rib injury that forced her to withdraw ahead of the Miami Open and Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers after she hurt herself during her run to the Indian Wells semi-finals last month, broke her opponent again in the first game of the second set. Belarusian Sabalenka started to pile up unforced errors and struggled with her serve at 2-0 before firing a cross-court forehand to hold. But she could not break Swiatek back and the Pole held serve at 5-4 to seal her second title of the year. “I want to thank my team because it has been such an intense time. I am so happy we are making the right decisions,” Swiatek said, following her well-timed return from injury. “It is a pretty exciting time. I will be coming back because I love this tournament.” While Swiatek won it for a second consecutive time, it was Sabalenka’s third straight loss in the final in Stuttgart.