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Aryna Sabalenka Tops Iga Swiatek for Second Madrid Championship

Aryna Sabalenka celebrates with the trophy after defeating Iga Swiatek of Poland during the women’s final match on Day Thirteen of the Mutua Madrid Open at La Caja Magica on May 06, 2023 in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Spending the offseason recharging her mind and reshaping her body, Aryna Sabalenka didn’t flinch facing a physical final against top-ranked Iga Swiatek today.

In a rematch of the Stuttgart final, Sabalenka put Swiatek on a tennis treadmill.

Commanding the center of the court with a stinging serve and jolting forehand, the second-ranked Sabalenka ran through the final three games defeating world No. 1 Swiatek 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to capture her second Mutua Madrid Open crown in the past three years.

It is Sabalenka’s 13th career title, including her fifth WTA Masters 1000 crown, and solidifies this as a riveting rivalry ahead of Rome and Roland Garros.

In a blockbuster battle that exceeded the hype, Sabalenka channeled her power with patience and continuing slamming heavy strikes.

“I have to be patient. I have to wait for a better shot to go for my heavy shot,” Sabalenka told Tennis Channel’s Prakash Amritraj afterward. “So I was kind of  trying to not over-rush things and it worked really well today. I’m super happy with the win, especially against Iga on clay, it’s something special.

“I’m super happy with the level and hopefully we gonna keep meeting each other in the finals this season. I’m gonna do everything I can to make it happen because I think it’s really great the first two seeds of the tournament reached the final that’s something amazing.” 

Australian Open champion Sabalenka not only avenged her straight-sets loss in the Stuttgart final, she beat the two-time Roland Garros champion on a red clay court for the first time.

“Congrats Aryna amazing match you always play such intense tennis every match is a challenge,” Swiatek said afterward. “Congrats you fully deserve it.

“We both had a season so hopefully there are gonna be many more finals when we play against each other.”

The second-ranked Sabalenka stated her goal is to rise to No. 1 and today Sabalenka delivered first-class tennis raising her 2023 record to a WTA-best 29-4 with an impressive close.

“It’s always tough you always push me to the limit,” Sabalenka told Swiatek afterward. “I hope we’re gonna keep playing many more times this season.”

In her two Madrid finals, Sabalenka has conquered two world No. 1 players defeating top-ranked Ash Barty 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 in the 2021 final to capture her first career clay-court crown.

It was the second straight final clash between the world’s top two coming after Swiatek stopped Sabalenka in the Stuttgart final last month.

The last time the WTA’s top two men in consecutive tournaments was in 2000 when Martina Hingis and Lindsay Davenport squared off in Indian Wells and again in Miami.

The three-time Grand Slam champion is one of the best clay-court movers in the world, but Sabalenka showed her strength on the move in the eighth game.

Holding double break point in the final set, Sabalenka scorched a running forehand strike that settled inside the line. That bold blast gave her the break and a 5-3 lead.

Serving for her second Madrid title at 30-all, Sabalenka roped a forehand down the line that was initially called good. Swiatek successfully challenged as replay showed the ball landed long for break point.

Refusing to wilt, Sabalenka again stepped up and crashed another forehand down the line that helped her fend off break point.

Throwing an ace down the middle brought Sabalenka to championship point. The second seed attacked, but Swiatek was waiting and whipped a heavy forehand struck from nearly her knees to save championship point.

The Pole put a forehand into net handing Sabalenka a second championship point. Sabalenka netted a forehand as tension ratcheted.

A jolting backhand brought her a third championship point, but Swiatek knocked a backhand return down the line for another deuce.

On this night, nothing would stop Sabalenka.