Madrid: Aryna Sabalenka survives big scare in opener, Elena Rybakina safely through

Sabalenka and Rybakina both made winning starts to the Madrid runs.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Madrid: Aryna Sabalenka survives big scare in opener, Elena Rybakina safely through
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Aryna Sabalenka clinched a hard-fought win in her Madrid opener, while Elena Rybakina safely made it past her opening match at Caja Magica.

Sabalenka, the defending Madrid champion, was tested heavily by Magda Linette before sealing a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win over the 48th-ranked Pole in two hours and nine minutes of play. 

In her next match for a quarterfinal ticket, Sabalenka will play against the winner of the match between Katie Boulter and Robin Montgomery. 

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Meanwhile, fourth-seeded Rybakina saw off Lucia Bronzetti 6-4 6-3 to progress into the Madrid round-of-16. For a place in the Madrid quarterfinal, Rybakina will play against either Marta Kostyuk or Mayar Sherif.

How Sabalenka survived the Linette scare?

After earning the first break of the match in the third game, Sabalenka saved two break points in the fourth game and then routinely held on to her serve for the remainder of the set to clinch the opener.

Down by a set, Linette earned her first break in the fourth game of the second set and that was enough for her to send the match into a decider.

After losing the second set, Sabalenka was twice on the verge of falling down by a break in the third set but she managed to save a break point in the first game and two more in the seventh game. Then, Sabalenka broke Linette in the eighth game for a 5-3 lead before serving out for the match in the following game.

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

How Rybakina got the job done against Bronzetti?

Early in the first set, Rybakina broke Bronzetti in the second game but got instantly broken back in the following game. However, Rybakina still won the first set after breaking Bronzetti in the 10th game - the game in which the Italian was serving to stay in the opener.

After winning the first set, Rybakina dropped her serve in the first game of the second set. But Rybakina responded impressively by claiming back-to-back breaks and opening a 4-1 second-set lead.

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Serving for the match in the ninth game, Rybakina realized her first match point to seal a two-set win over Bronzetti.

Aryna Sabalenka Elena Rybakina
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