Aryna Sabalenka picks her spots to down clay maven

Aryna Sabalenka celebrates

The huge rankings disparity between Aryna Sabalenka and her Round of 32 Madrid Open opponent Camila Osorio belied the risk posed by the Colombian.

Sabalenka identified a need to be patient and keep Osorio on the move.

The world No 2 was relieved to get beyond Osorio who had made the most of a wildcard to reach the third round of the Madrid Open for the first time.

“I’m happy with the win,” Sabalenka said. “She’s a great player and she fought for every point. It was a really great match.”

Osorio was unable to crack Sabalenka’s power game. She fought valiantly to get back in the game after going behind early on (3-1). With the support of the Spanish audience, she saved two break points to cut the deficit to 3-2 before breaking Sabalenka to tie up the opening set.

After her erratic stretch, Sabalenka quickly found her bearings. She broke Osorio a second time to take the lead at 5-4 and maintained composure to serve out the opening set through a tough deuce game.

With a set already in the bank, Sabalenka played the first part of the second set with precision and great rythym.

Osorio requested a medical stoppage to evaluate her left hip and leg after Sabalenka gained a double-break advantage at 4-1. As soon as play resumed, Osorio broke Sabalenka, cutting the deficit to 4-3. As Sabalenka served for the match at 5-4, Osorio continued to advance toward an epic comeback, breaking the No 2 once more.

However it wasn’t to be for the world No 115; Sabalenka made a wise decision to keep the points short and hammered her way through Osorio’s serve for a fifth and final break, giving herself a second chance to serve out the victory. She remained steady this time. After nearly two hours, Sabalenka calmly served out the victory to end the match.

“That’s something that I expected, especially against players like her,” Sabalenka said after the win.

“She can return, she can play long rallies, and she can come back to the match. I just kept telling myself I have to keep going for my shots and I just have to make her move because she’s not going to move all day long. Once I will get this approach shot and I will be able to finish the point.

“So I was just telling myself to keep going for my shots and don’t start panicking.”

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