Knockdown champion

Aryna Sabalenka imposed her takedown tennis on Ashleigh Barty’s coach and tactician to take revenge from the final 13 days ago in Stuttgart with a victory over the world number one at the Mutua Madrid Open. The 23-year-old Belarusian, who will be number 4 in the world for the first time since Monday, won by 6-0, 3-6 and 6-4 in 1h: 39. So he got his 10th title, the most important of her career as it is a WTA 1,000 and equaled the balance of her duels (4-4) against the Australian 25. “If you hold on in long exchanges you have options to beat her,” the winner told AS in an interview before the start of the tournament.

Sabalenka (the first Belarusian to triumph in the Spanish capital after the Azarenka runners-up in 2011 and 2012) and Barty, both debutants in the event, faced each other for the third time in the last five weeks (they had seen each other in Miami with victory for the aussie) and from the beginning it was noticed that Aryna was playing with annoyance, as if Ashleigh owed her money. In the first set he passed over him, he only gave up eight points with his serve and broke his serve three times. A gale of power and precision that was not maintained in the second round, largely due to the intelligence of Barty, who found a way to tickle Sabalenka with his backhand cut, lower remains and more mobility. That way he stopped the bleeding and took over command.

What the 2019 Roland Garros champion may not have expected is that her rival had enough personality to keep her cool and return to the game. He held on tightly in the moments when Barty squeezed the rest. He saved two break chances and struck his final blow in the ninth game, to serve at 5-4 and close the most important triumph of his life. Laughing, as always, she celebrated with a curious dance that Ipswich’s did not bother, whose streak on European soil since the title in Paris two years ago was 16 victories. consecutive. Sabalenka had placed him nine aces for a total of 34 winners in a final to which he had reached without losing a set and giving up only 18 games. The numbers supported it.

“In Rome and Roland Garros I will fight for every point”

“I’m really happy, I feel amazing right now,” said the champion. “Barty is number one because she is always trying to find a way to beat you and in the second set she has started to use her cut backhand more. There has been a great level and I am happy to have been able to win, “he explained.” In Stuttgart I was injured and in Miami it was very hard to endure long exchanges. In the important moments I have been more aggressive this time and that has helped me to win, “she clarified about her previous duels, before making it clear that she must be taken into account for what is coming: “I don’t know what will happen in Rome and in Paris, but I can promise that I will fight every point and do my best.”

Sabalenka has been faithful to his game plan regardless of the surface. “The idea was to maintain the aggressiveness and not change my game too much for being ground, even if I sometimes hit the most topspin or used the cut backhand.” And she is amazed that she will be number four in the world. “Being top-5 is crazy and I’m very excited about that improvement. Although I don’t usually focus on the ranking, but on my game, unless it’s about being number one.” Much of his success is attributed to the work of the people who accompany him. “I’m proud of my team, because I couldn’t move when I got injured in Stuttgart and they have prepared me very well, with a job to be able to play here and win.”. Although they did not follow him in something they had agreed to before the final: “We had talked about doing that dance if I won, but they have not followed me.”

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