Aryna Sabalenka pipped Ashleigh Barty in the final of the Mutua Madrid Open on Saturday. The Belarusian won a topsy-turvy encounter 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 to avenge her defeat to the Australian in the final of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart, a couple of weeks ago.
While Barty had no answers to give in the opening set, the second set saw the world no. 1 adjust her game and extend the match to the decider. However, in the third set, Sabalenka recovered her poise and her game to put a halt to Barty’s run of 16 straight wins and hoist her 10th career title.
This was also Sabalenka’s first title on clay.
Mutua Madrid Open: Aryna Sabalenka's the last woman standing
After her win, speaking with the press, Sabalenka shared her thoughts on playing and winning on clay. “I'm not really scared of this surface anymore.
Before I was too much thinking about the clay court, that this is surface not for me, that it's really tough to play on this surface, it's long rallies. I was really too much thinking about this. This year I relaxed and just play my game.
I worked a lot on the movement, so I prepare myself really well for the clay court,” Sabalenka said. “Before on the clay court, I tried to change my game a little bit. I tried to play with the topspin, slice, all this stuff.
(My coach) said, Listen, you don't need to change your game. Of course, it's good that you can use a little bit more spin on the ball, have this variation. You just have to stay aggressive here and be ready that the ball will come back a little bit more than on a hard court.
It's just about a little bit longer rallies,” the 23-year-old added. Following this win at the Mutua Madrid Open, Aryna Sabalenka will break into the top-five of the WTA rankings for the first time in her career.
On Monday, 10th May, when the rankings are updated, Sabalenka will be ranked fourth in the world. Ashleigh Barty, meanwhile, will retain her hold at the top of the rankings.