Madrid Open | Sabalenka claims biggest title of her career

Hands World No. 1 Barty her first defeat on red clay since 2019 in Rome

May 09, 2021 10:32 pm | Updated 10:32 pm IST - MADRID

Joy personified: Aryna Sabalenka is pleased as punch after her triumph on Saturday.

Joy personified: Aryna Sabalenka is pleased as punch after her triumph on Saturday.

Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka stunned World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty to win the Madrid Open for the first time on Saturday.

Sabalenka was beaten by Barty in the final in Stuttgart last month but exacted revenge at the Caja Magica, a storming 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 victory clinching the biggest title of her career.

The 23-year-old has never gone past the fourth round at a Grand Slam but on this evidence she will be among the contenders at the French Open, which starts in Paris later this month.

This was Sabalenka’s 10th career title but her first on clay and it will see her rise to number four in the world rankings on Monday.

Barty was the heavy favourite the final, especially after beating Sabalenka in Stuttgart last month, also on clay.

Bouncing back, but...

The Australian appeared to have recovered from a chastening opening set, after levelling up in the second and then leading 4-3, 30-15 on Sabalenka’s serve in the decider.

But her opponent never gave in and produced a brilliant finish by winning the last 11 consecutive points to hand Barty her first defeat on red clay since 2019 in Rome.

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

Berrettini in final

In the men’s section, Matteo Berrettini set up a summit clash with Alexander Zverev. The Italian defeated Ruud 6-4, 6-4 to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final.

Berrettini, who claimed the Serbia Open title in Belgrade last month, has won 16 of his 19 matches this year.

The results:

Women: Final: Aryna Sabalenka bt Ashleigh Barty 6-0, 3-6, 6-4;

Men: Semifinal: Matteo Berrettini bt Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4 .

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