Aryna Sabalenka takes down Iga Swiatek for her 2nd career Mutua Madrid Open Title
Updated: May 9
The Belarusian tennis savant, Aryna Sabalenka, continued her dominance in the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) this past weekend by defeating No.1 ranked Polish tennis player, and three-time Grand Slam champion, Iga Swiatek in a three set classic (6-3, 3-6, 6-3) to claim the 2023 Mutua Madrid Open title: Her third title in 2023 (also winning the Australian and Adelaide Open)... Not a bad birthday gift.
This title also marks Sabalenka’s second Madrid title (also 2021), fourth time beating a No.1 ranked opponent, her fifth WTA 1000 title, and 13th overall WTA title of her career. Her winning her third title in the calendar year breaks a former three way tie with Swiatek and Swiss tennis player, Belinda Bencic, who missed the tournament due to a hip injury.
Sabalenka’s second victory on the red dirt put her in upper echelon territory, joining legends such as Petra Kvitova (3), Simona Halep (2) and Serena Williams (2) as the only players to win the Madrid title more than once in their careers. Sabalenka also is the only woman to defeat the last two No.1’s in Swiatek and Ashleigh Barty who shockingly retired last year.
Sabalenka was aggressive, determined, and relentless in her pursuit over Swiatek as the reigning French Open champion had her number in their previous matchups against each other, beating her for the first time in four meetings.
The Belarusian star took some hits and bumps over the course of the match from being down 40-15 in the first game to the scorching Swiatek, but letting off fireworks with explosive hits to comeback and rally to take the first set off an invigorating backhand winner up the line and proceeded with a rowling roar.
Sabalenka displayes her passion after scoring a point Credit: Alamy Stock Photos
Both players battled it out between the match, hitting back and forth until a net cord affected Swiatek’s forehand swing that cost her two break points to go down 3-2. Swiatek then proceeded with a comet-like forehand that resulted in a deuce off as Sabalenka failed to keep the ball inbounds off two serves.
Sabalenka’s vigorous hits caused a lot of conflict for Swiatek, helping Sabalenka get an early lead, which was key for her chances to win against the phenomenon in Swiatek, as she was 23-0 this year after winning the first set.
Set two saw Swiatek respond back, showing why she’s ranked as the best in women’s tennis by taking a 3-0 lead in the set. Sabalenka wouldn’t let up though, storming back and putting pressure on Swiatek that resulted in another winner after accumulating a succession of break points.
However, Swiatek took full throttle off of Sabalenka’s lackadaisical backhands to take a 5-3 lead in the second set, finishing it off with the sizzling serve to decide the set and take the match into a decider.
At this point, many tennis fans and pundits probably thought the Polish star had the game in the balance…But Sabalenka had other plans, outdueling Swiatek by taking a 3-0 lead in the deciding set. Swiatek showed her resilience by tying it 3-3 in the third set with the help of ill-advised double faults from Sabalenka.
Sabalenka responded with some fiery forehands to take a 5-3 lead in the set, eventually taking the match.
It was a match for the ages between the top two ranked WTA players in the women’s tennis: A gift from the tennis gods as most were worried for the future of the tennis game after Barty’s surprise retirement last year in the prime of her career that left many wondering who would take the mantle of the throne with her, Serena, and Venus Williams all retired.
Flash forward to 2023 we now have a new “Big 3” era in Swiatek, Sabalenka, and Kazakhstani tennis player Elena Rybavinka who have breathed life and a sigh of relief for women’s tennis.
If we can get more matches like we just witnessed with Swiatek and Sabalenka, the WTA will be in good hands for the next decade.