Aryna Sabalenka topples Iga Swiatek to win second Madrid Open title

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MADRID: World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka notched up a statement-making victory in the Madrid Open final, defeating World No.1 Iga Swiatek 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to claim her second Madrid title. The 2021 Madrid champion took just two hours and 26 minutes to topple top-seeded Swiatek and lift the trophy for the second time in the last three years.

Sabalenka had never won a set against Swiatek in their three previous clay-court encounters. In fact, Swiatek defeated her in the final of the Stuttgart Open less than two weeks ago, winning 6-3, 6-4 on indoor clay.

Sabalenka, on the other hand, changed that record with a hard-hitting performance at Manolo Santana Stadium on Saturday, winning her tour-leading 29th match of the season. Sabalenka won her first title since winning her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in early February.

Sabalenka was the first to attack on return, converting her fourth break point of the day to take a crucial 5-3 lead in the first set. She earned her first set point of the game with an ace, which she converted with an error-forcing backhand.

Swiatek’s 3-0 lead was cut to 3-3 in the second set, but the top seed blasted a return winner to recover her break advantage at 5-3. Swiatek served out the set to tie the match after cutting her unforced errors in half in the second set, from eight in the first to four in the second.

Sabalenka needed four championship points to break through Swiatek’s defence, eventually winning with a ferocious forehand. Sabalenka’s 32 victories nearly surpassed Swiatek’s 17, as the second-ranked Sabalenka extended her lead at the top of the Race to the WTA Finals.

“It’s always tough battles against Iga. She always pushes me to the limits. I really enjoy our battles. Hopefully, we can play many more finals this season”, quoted Sabalenka as saying after her win. “(The third set) wasn’t easy at all, but I kind of expect something like that from Iga, that she’s gonna fight for the last point. Super happy how I was able to mentally handle this situation and to keep fighting and keep trying”, Sabalenka said. (ANI)

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