Sunday, May 07, 2023
Aryna Sabalenka defeated Iga Swiatek 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to clinch the Madrid Open title for the second time on Saturday.
Sabalenka avenged her loss to Swiatek in the Stuttgart final a fortnight ago and ended the Pole's nine-match winning streak ahead of her French Open defence.
The Belarusian came back strongly in the third set to win the first WTA 1000 final featuring the top two ranked players since 2014. Sabalenka clinched the title on her fourth championship point with a forehand cross-court winner to earn her 13th career title, only her second on clay in two hours and 25 minutes.
Sabalenka started with great intensity in her serve and forehand, and her explosive start gave her a 3-0 lead before Swiatek held serve to make it 3-1. Sabalenka earned a break for a 5-3 lead when Swiatek sent a backhand long, and she consolidated to win the first set.
In the second set, Swiatek converted her first break point for a 2-0 lead, but Sabalenka broke back to make it 3-3. Swiatek broke again for a 5-3 lead and served it out to force the decisive third set.
Sabalenka broke for a 2-0 advantage in the third set and saved a break point with a vicious forehand to consolidate. Swiatek broke back, but Sabalenka broke again for a 5-3 lead. After missing three championship points, Sabalenka finally clinched the title on her fourth championship point with a forehand cross-court winner.
"I'm just super happy with this win, especially against Iga on the clay, it's always tough matches against her," said Sabalenka.
Swiatek, who failed to earn a single break point in the opening set to Sabalenka's four, said, "Congrats Aryna for an amazing match, you play such an intense tennis and every match is a challenge, so congrats, you deserve it."
The world number one also aimed a jab at the tournament organizers for some of the late nights over the past week, with matches regularly finishing in the early hours. "It's not fun to play at 1am though," she added. "I'm happy anyway I was able to get past this experience and survive and be in the final."
In the men's final on Sunday, home favourite and world number two Carlos Alcaraz is aiming to defend his title against German lucky loser Jan-Lennard Struff.
The 18-year-old Spaniard is one of the most exciting young talents in tennis and has already won two Challenger titles this year. The Madrid Open, one of the most prestigious clay court tournaments, serves as a warm-up for the French Open, which starts on May 30.
With this victory, Sabalenka has sent a warning to her rivals ahead of the Grand Slam in Paris.