Stunning display from Aryna Sabalenka as she beats Ashleigh Barty in Madrid Open final
Aryna Sabalenka turned the tables on Ashleigh Barty to win the Madrid Open title.
Two weeks ago, Barty came from a set down to defeat Sabalenka in the final of the WTA event in Stuttgart, and it looked as if history would repeat itself when the world number one assumed the momentum going into the deciding set here.
But Sabalenka, one of the biggest hitters on tour, powered her way through the final three games for a 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 triumph and a 10th career title.
It is Sabalenka’s first clay-court title, and the 23-year-old said of her new-found comfort on the surface: “I would say before I was too much thinking about the clay court, that this is a surface not for me.
“My focus is just on my game, that I have to stay aggressive, that I have to move well on the clay court, make sure I can hit these shots really clean, heavy shots. Just something changed in my mind for the clay court for this year. I’m not really scared of this surface any more.”
Barty had not lost a match on red clay for nearly two years since before she won her maiden grand slam title at Roland Garros in 2019.
She had no answer to the power of her Belarusian opponent in the first set here, though, as Sabalenka produced the shots that have seen her tipped as a future slam champion for several years.
Sabalenka appears closer to that than ever now and she will hit a new career-high ranking of four on Monday.
Just as impressive as her first-set dominance was the way she recomposed herself after her level dropped in the second set, refusing to let Barty engineer her way to another title.
The Australian praised her Sabalenka, saying: “She takes the ball out of my court and essentially takes the racket out of my hand when she serves the way she did in the first set. I gave her a few too many looks on second serves. She’s able to dominate and take that away from me.
“There wasn’t much in it. I think I had two or three break points in that third set. She had the same. She grabbed her opportunity, I didn’t grab mine. It’s a pretty fine line.”
Exclusive – Myleene Klass believes Emma Raducanu can inspire a generation
Myleene Klass has revealed Emma Raducanu has inspired her daughters to reach for the stars after her stunning win at the US Open.
Dominic Thiem on Emma Raducanu’s US Open win: ‘It’s one of the greatest achievements in women’s sport’
“Perhaps it is the greatest breakthrough of all time,” says Dominic Thiem.
‘Unfair that Novak Djokovic is always the bad guy and Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are the good guys’
“I hope he is treated a little more fairly,” says Boris Becker.
Venus Williams explains backstory behind photo with Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova at Met Gala
Just Venus, Serena and Maria enjoying a laugh in the bathroom at the Met Gala.
‘I think it’s gradually sinking in a bit more,’ says Emma Raducanu after ‘whirlwind experience’
The teenager took part in a round of breakfast TV and radio interviews.
‘People are talking about tennis again,’ revels Boris Becker after ‘Dame Emma Raducanu’s’ heroics
Boris Becker waxes lyrical about Emma Raducanu.
Tennis to introduce ‘Stefanos Tsitsipas bathroom break rule’ following Greek’s lengthy loo visits?
Stricter rules on the cards following furore over Stefanos Tsitsipas’ loo breaks.
LTA chief insists Emma Raducanu will not lose focus after stunning rise to the top
Lloyd has called for the newly-crowned US Open champion to be given “breathing space”.
Emma Raducanu delighted to return back in the UK and reunite with her father
Raducanu was pictured outside her house after travelling back from New York.
Shock defeat for Andy Murray as he is beaten in Rennes
The Russian is ranked 42 places below Murray.