Saturday 19 June 2021
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Aryna Sabalenka downs No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in thriller to win Madrid Open 2021

Aryna Sabalenka was in ominous form as she overpowered world number one Ash Barty 6-0 3-6 6-4 to win the Madrid Open

Aryna Sabalenka was in ominous form as she overpowered world number one Ash Barty 6-0 3-6 6-4 to win the Madrid Open on Saturday. In claiming victory, the Belarusian gained revenge after being beaten by the Australian in the Stuttgart Open final a fortnight ago.

Barty had beaten Sabalenka in three sets in both the Miami quarterfinals last month and the Stuttgart final two weeks ago. The Australian was also on a 16-match red clay winning streak, and had won her past 10 clashes against top 10 opposition.

On a windy day in Madrid, Sabalenka’s first set shotmaking was nothing short of sensational as she combined her trademark big hits from the baseline with deft dropshots to leave the Australian reeling, serving it out inside 25 minutes.

The world number seven had not dropped a set coming into the final and after threatening to run away with the title, Barty finally broke her momentum by breaking in the first game of the second set.

Barty failed to hold on to that advantage but showed her depth of talent to break again and send the match into a decider.

Both players held serve until Sabalenka broke Barty to love to go 5-4 up before serving out to secure the win. This was Barty’s first defeat on clay since 2019 in Rome.

“To be honest after the final in Stuttgart, I was injured, I couldn’t move and wanted to withdraw. But the recovery was good, in four days I feel better and now I’m the champion. It’s been an amazing week,” Sabalenka said on court afterwards.

The trophy is Sabalenka’s second of the season following Abu Dhabi in January, fourth in the past 12 months and 10th in total. The Belarusian will break the top-5 of the WTA Rankings for the first time next week as a result.

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