Champion Sabalenka sets up Swiatek rematch in Madrid Open final

tennis02 May 2024 22:28| Β© AFP

Defending Madrid Open champion Aryna Sabalenka produced a brilliant comeback from a set and a break down to beat Elena Rybakina and reach the final on Thursday.

The Belarusian second seed triumphed 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) and will face world No 1 Iga Swiatek on Saturday in a rematch of last year's final.

The clinical Swiatek earlier eased past American Madison Keys with a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 victory.

Kazakh Rybakina dominated a below-par Sabalenka in the first set with two breaks, but faced far stiffer resistance in the second after going a break up in the third game.

Two-time Australian Open champion Sabalenka put heavy pressure on the fourth seed's serve and eventually cracked it to pull level at 4-4.

Rybakina hit back instantly but seemed rattled when serving for the match and world No 2 Sabalenka broke again for 5-5 and then claimed the next two games to force a deciding third set.

The players exchanged holds with just one break point reached – Sabalenka staying firm for a 6-5 advantage – before the tie-break.

Sabalenka, 25, sealed her victory with a typically powerful serve that Rybakina could not control.

The big-hitter had lost three of her last four clashes against the 24-year-old but emerged triumphant as they met on clay for the first time.


Swiatek has a 6-3 record against Sabalenka but in their only match in the Spanish capital, the latter triumphed in three sets a year ago to claim the title.

Dominant on clay, Swiatek barely put a foot wrong against Keys, making just eight unforced errors in the match to leave the 29-year-old American with virtually no chance.

"I'm really happy that I had such a solid game today," Swiatek said on court after reaching her 11th WTA 1000 final.

"Madison is an amazing player with a really fast game and a big serve, so I wanted to focus on myself and I'm happy I was focussed."

The top seed, triumphant at Doha and Indian Wells, started in unforgiving form, taking the first set in 31 minutes.

Keys was more competitive in the second but Swiatek took it with two breaks.