Tennis: Sabalenka enjoys early birthday present with Madrid final spot

AFP , Thursday 4 May 2023

Aryna Sabalenka gave herself an early birthday gift by easing into the Madrid Open final for the second time in three years on Thursday.

Aryna Sabalenka
Belarus Aryna Sabalenka returns the ball to Greece s Maria Sakkari during their 2023 WTA Tour Madrid Open tennis tournament singles semi-final match at Caja Magica in Madrid on May 4, 2023. Photo: AFP


The world number two turns 25 on Friday and the Belarusian celebrated in style by breezing past Greek world number nine Maria Sakkari, 6-4, 6-1.

Sabalenka, the 2021 champion in Madrid, will face either world number one Iga Swiatek or 13th-ranked Veronika Kudermetova in Saturday's championship match.

Reigning Australian Open champion Sabalenka will be chasing a fifth WTA 1000 title, a 13th career title overall and third in 2023.

On Thursday, she took her head-to-head record over Sakkari to 6-3.

From 3-3 in the opening set, Sabalenka won nine of the last 11 games including the last five.

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