WTA

Swiatek topples Sabalenka in thrilling Madrid Open final

By Sports Desk May 04, 2024

Iga Swiatek clinched the Madrid Open title after downing defending champion Aryna Sabalenka in a gruelling final.

In a rematch of last year's final, the top two players in the world did battle in thrilling fashion on Saturday, with Swiatek eventually prevailing 7-5 4-6 7-6 (9-7) after three hours and 14 minutes on court.

It marked Swiatek's first title in Madrid, and the Pole had to do it the hard way, saving three championship points before finally coming out on top in the tie-break, which she sealed with her second championship point when Sabalenka sent a backhand long.

This victory means Swiatek, who has won the French Open on three occasions, has now won every European clay court tournament at WTA 500 level or higher.

It was also Swiatek's seventh victory over Sabalenka, from what was their 10th meeting.

Data Debrief: Clay queen Swiatek rolls on

Swiatek has now won her past seven WTA Tour-level finals, since the defeat to Sabalenka in Madrid last season, while only Elena Rybakina can match her haul of three titles so far in 2024.

This was the longest singles final of the year so far on the WTA Tour, while it was the fourth show-piece match in a WTA 1000 event to be decided by a third set tie-break.

Since the format’s introduction in 2009, only Serena Williams (13) and Victoria Azarenka (10) have more WTA 1000 titles than Swiatek, whose tally of nine equals the efforts of Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova.

Meanwhile, of players to have made at least 10 appearances at clay court tournaments, only Chris Evert, Margaret Court and Steffi Graf have a higher ratio of victories in the Open Era than Swiatek (8/18).

In fact, Swiatek has now claimed a tournament victory in 31 per cent (9/29) of the WTA 1000 main draws she has entered, the highest percentage of any player since the format’s introduction in 2009.

Related items

  • Osaka crashes out of Libema Open, De Minaur through to semi-finals Osaka crashes out of Libema Open, De Minaur through to semi-finals

    Naomi Osaka crashed out of the Libema Open despite fighting to a tie-break in the final set, with Bianca Andreescu progressing to the semi-finals after a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (7-3) win.

    Osaka's match was interrupted by rain early on with her in the lead, but Andreescu came back out in top form to take the first set.

    The Japanese raced through the second though, taking a 5-0 lead before holding off Andreescu's fightback to go into a decider.

    Despite an impressive comeback to force a tie-break in the final set, Osaka became sloppy, with her mistakes contributing to the Canadian's path into the semi-final, where she will face Dalma Galfi.

    Elsewhere, Alex de Minaur is through to the semi-finals after a comfortable straight-sets victory over Milos Raonic.

    Despite a long break due to bad weather, the Australian eased into the next round with a 7-5, 6-2 victory on Friday.

    He will face either Ugo Humbert or Gijs Brouwer in the next round.

    Data Debrief: Osaka not close enough, De Minaur in cruise control

    Despite winning more points (98 compared to 94), and winning more games (16 to 15), Osaka could not hold her nerve in the tie-break to reach the semi-finals.

    Competing as the top seed for the first time in his tour-level career, De Minaur felt no pressure as he rallied in the second set to ensure Raonic would not find a way back into the match, winning his last five games in a row on his way to victory. 

  • Federer hopes Djokovic, Nadal and Murray 'can keep playing forever' Federer hopes Djokovic, Nadal and Murray 'can keep playing forever'

    Roger Federer expressed his hopes for former rivals Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to "keep playing forever", insisting the ATP Tour is "better with them".

    Federer called time on his glittering career in 2022, while the other three - who between them formed tennis' 'big four' - appear not to be far away from joining him in retirement.

    Nadal, who will miss Wimbledon to focus on his "last Olympics", and Murray are expected to hang up their racquets this year, with the latter revealing in February that he does not "plan on playing much past this summer".

    Meanwhile, 24-time major winner Djokovic is also likely be absent from the grass-court major, having undergone knee surgery following his withdrawal from the French Open last week. 

    Now in their late 30s, all three players are certainly at the twilight of their remarkable careers.

    But Federer, who says the quartet all now "get on super well" after years of rivalry, hopes they are not finished just yet.

    "I really don't think there are any words of advice that I can give him," he told BBC Sport. "Retirement is so deeply personal. When you take that decision, everybody is in a completely different circumstance.

    "We've gone through similar things, but I'm too far away to give advice. If [Andy] called me up, I'd be happy to answer some questions. He's had this massive hip issue and what he is doing is inspirational.

    "I hope Andy, like Rafa and Novak, can keep playing forever, like a fan. The tour is better with them. I was watching Roland-Garros last week, and I was like: 'Wow, they're so good - I used to do that too!'

    "It's tricky sometimes and there’s definitely moments when you don't like a certain opponent, but then you like him so much. It's important to remember this as a player - it is just tennis and, in the end, we can be normal.

    "You see us being super friendly with each other after the rivalry, and we get on super well."

  • Raducanu cruises into Nottingham Open quarter-finals after dominant Snigur win Raducanu cruises into Nottingham Open quarter-finals after dominant Snigur win

    Emma Raducanu cruised into the quarter-finals of the Nottingham Open with a straight-sets victory over Daria Snigur on Thursday.

    After making her return from injury in the previous round, Raducanu made light work of the match, winning 6-2, 6-2 as her preparation for Wimbledon continued.

    Despite a bright start from Snigur, which saw her break the Briton's serve in the opening game, she could not hold off Raducanu's challenge as she reeled off six games in a row to win the first set.

    With her confidence back, Raducanu secured two breaks in the second set to ease through and will face Francesca Jones or Ashlyn Krueger in the next round.

    Data Debrief: Raducanu easing back to full threat

    After a slightly shaky first round against Ena Shibahara, Raducanu looked a confident figure on the court as she dispatched Snigur.

    Her serve proved a highlight as she served 11 aces in the second set, and had a 70 per cent win rate on her first serve throughout the match.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.