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Swiatek saves three match points to win Madrid Open title

tennis04 May 2024 20:00| Ā© AFP
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Iga Swiatek @ Getty images

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek avenged her loss to Aryna Sabalenka in last year's Madrid final by defeating the world No 2 to clinch her first title in the Spanish capital after a gruelling three-hour 11-minute battle on Saturday.

Coming back from 1-3 down in the decider and saving three match points in total, Swiatek claimed a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (9/7) victory to secure the trophy.

She has now won each of the WTA 1000 and 500 tournaments held on European clay at least once, to go with three French Open titles on the surface at Roland Garros.

Swiatek has won her last eight consecutive finals and now joins Elena Rybakina with 30 victories this season.

In warmer temperatures but breezier than usual conditions at the Caja Magica, the pair traded breaks to kick off the final and were neck and neck until Swiatek drew a forehand error from Sabalenka to break for 6-5 and closed out the 61-minute opening set on her first opportunity.

Despite squandering a 2-0 lead early in the second, Sabalenka manifested a set point on Swiatek's serve in game 10, forcing a decider with a lightning-fast down-the-line forehand winner.

It was the fifth time in six matches this fortnight that Sabalenka found herself embroiled in a three-set duel and she was clearly ready to go the distance.

The defending champion broke for 3-1 in the decider, peppering Swiatek with deep, powerful shots, but her lead was short-lived.

Swiatek saved a pair of match points on her own serve at 5-6 as the high-quality affair fittingly went to a deciding tiebreak.

Sabalenka produced an ace to save match point at 5-6 in the breaker and saw one of her own slip away as Swiatek survived for 7-7.

Moments later, the Polish world No 1 flung herself to the ground in disbelief as she sealed a heroic victory on a long backhand from two-time champion Sabalenka.

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