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Tennis: heroic, Swiatek overthrows Sabalenka and wins the Madrid tournament

At the end of the standoff, a revenge: world No.

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Tennis: heroic, Swiatek overthrows Sabalenka and wins the Madrid tournament

At the end of the standoff, a revenge: world No.1 Iga Swiatek was crowned in Madrid by defeating world No.2 Aryna Sabalenka 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (9/7) Saturday, a year after losing to her in the final on Spanish clay.

Swiatek came out after a fierce face-to-face match lasting exactly 3 hours 11 minutes, not without having dismissed three match points in favor of Sabalenka: two firsts at 6 games to 5 on her serve, and a another in the decisive game, at 7 points to 6. The three-time winner of Roland-Garros - who will put her crown back on the line in three weeks - won on her second occasion, after a first obtained at 6 points to 5.

“Who is going to say now that women’s tennis is boring?” she said into the stadium microphone. A year ago in the “Caja magica” in Madrid, Sabalenka won 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the final.

With this hard-won victory, Swiatek is obviously full of confidence as Roland-Garros approaches. On the throne of world tennis for the 101st week, she conquers her third trophy of the year, her third in WTA 1000, the most prestigious tournaments behind those of the Grand Slam, after Doha and Indian Wells. At 22 years old, this is the twentieth title of his still young career. It also completes its collection of trophies from the main European tournaments on clay, its core surface, after Stuttgart (2022 and 2023), Rome (2021 and 2022), and of course Roland-Garros (2020, 2022 and 2023).

In a highly competitive match whose level rose particularly high in the second and third sets, the two best players in the world engaged in quite a showdown, between one - Sabalenka - trying to impose her power, and the the other - Swiatek - taking all the risks on the return of service and ready to make every effort in defense to regain control of almost desperate points, despite admitted tension and an arm which took time to free itself. Back to back after almost two hours of play, the world No.1 and No.2 were only decided at the end, in the tie-break of the decisive round.

Before that, Sabalenka had a break in advance in the third set (3-1), then even got match points first, at 6 games to 5. But she made a mistake in the first and Swiatek dismissed the second with an authoritarian forehand winner. At the meeting of the final of the Madrid tournament as in 2023, the two best players of the moment did not reach there at the same tempo.

Apart from a quarter-final in three sets lasting two and a half hours (against Haddad Maia), Swiatek went through the Spanish fortnight at a cruising pace: four matches in two sets, barely more than 1h15 min spent at most on the court, and only twenty games left on the way. On the contrary, four of Sabalenka's five face-to-face matches until the final stretched over three sets, like her semi-final lasting more than two and a quarter hours against world No.4 Elena Rybakina, came within two points of victory.

Swiatek has now emerged victorious from the last eight finals she has played. His latest defeat? In Madrid a year ago. Before Roland-Garros, the world No.1 and the double winner of the Australian Open are now expected in Rome next week. On Sunday, it's time for the men's final, between two unexpected guests, world No.8 Andrey Rublev and Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime, former top 10 today 35th.

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