Her revenge is taken: the world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka won in Madrid by defeating the world No.1 Iga Swiatek 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 on Saturday, two weeks after giving in against the Polonaise in the final of their previous tournament.
In Stuttgart (Germany) in April, already on clay, his favorite surface, Swiatek won 6-3, 6-4 in the final.
With this victory in the Spanish capital, Sabalenka slightly dented Swiatek’s invincibility armor on ocher, three weeks before Roland-Garros (May 28-June 11).
Because it inflicts on the 21-year-old Pole, double champion of the Parisian Grand Slam (2020 and 2022), her first defeat on clay in 2023, after nine victories in a row.
More significantly, it is only the fourth match on the flagship surface of the spring that Swiatek has lost since his first triumphant campaign in Paris, in the fall of 2020 (the fault of Covid-19). During that time, she collected 46 successes there.
“This victory, especially on clay, is something incredible. I’m really happy to be able to compete with her and win, so it’s not super boring for people to watch our matches. …”, Appreciates Sabalenka.
Third title in 2023
Inevitably the imposing Belarusian, who celebrated her 25th birthday on Friday, thus asserts herself as a major opponent for the world N.1 in the perspective of Roland-Garros.
Especially since she took on a new dimension in 2023 by winning her first Grand Slam title, at the Australian Open in January. The proof, with now 29 matches won (for 4 losses), she is the player who has accumulated the most victories since the start of the season.
The title conquered in the “Caja magica” of Madrid is his third of the year, after Melbourne and Adelaide just before.
But there is a but: the altitude of the Spanish capital (more than 600 m) offers Sabalenka particularly favorable conditions for his powerful game and serve.
“I don’t want to put my defeat down to the conditions, she played a very good match,” evacuated Swiatek.
Still, the fact is that the only place where Sabalenka has been crowned on ocher is in Madrid, a first time in 2021 and a second on Saturday.
Will she be as comfortable in a different environment, in Rome next week, then in Paris?
Swiatek has “no big regrets”
Meanwhile, for the first time in four clay court heads-ups with Swiatek, Sabalenka has found the key. Until then, her two previous victories against the Polish had taken place on hard at the Masters, in 2021 and 2022.
It took the world N.2 to fight nearly two and a half hours with the N.1 to overcome it on Saturday evening. Until the last game, in which Swiatek saved three match points, including one from a snatch passing almost sitting on Madrid clay, and another from a winning return on a serve at 196 km / h , before giving way on the fourth.
“I could have been more proactive in the first set, but I hadn’t yet played here (in Madrid) against someone who plays so fast and with such high intensity, so I didn’t have too many benchmarks. , explains Swiatek. I have no big regrets.”
Before that, Sabalenka had made the best start before Swiatek, who had become more solid, came back up to one set everywhere.
In the decisive, intense round, where the two players went blow for blow, Sabalenka escaped three games to nil, Swiatek recovered well once again, but, faced with the repeated overpowering assaults of her opponent, she finished by lowering the flag.