Tennis: Swiatek saves 3 match points to beat Sabalenka in Madrid Open final

AP , Sunday 5 May 2024

Iga Swiatek avenged her loss in last year’s final to Aryna Sabalenka and won the Madrid Open on Saturday after a third-set tiebreaker.

Poland s Iga Swiatek holds her trophy after beating Belarus  Aryna Sabalenka during the 2024 WTA Tou
Poland s Iga Swiatek holds her trophy after beating Belarus Aryna Sabalenka during the 2024 WTA Tour Madrid Open tournament final tennis match at Caja Magica in Madrid. AFP

The top-ranked Swiatek beat No. 2 Sabalenka 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7) for her third title of the season. The 22-year-old Polish player became the youngest player to reach 20 titles since Caroline Wozniacki in 2012.

Swiatek faced two match points when she was struggling with her serve at 5-6 in the third set. But she held on to force the tiebreaker, where she saved a third match point.

Swiatek collapsed on the red clay after Sabalenka hit long to end a match that lasted 3 hours, 11 minutes, the longest WTA final so far in 2024. Each player broke serve five times.

“Who is going to say that women’s tennis is boring now?” Swiatek said. “Congrats as well to Aryna because we both had an amazing effort today.”

Swiatek will seek her fourth French Open title later this month as the two-time defending champion at Roland Garros.

Swiatek improved her head-to-head record with Sabalenka to 7-3. She has won her last seven finals, since her loss to Sabalenka here in 2023.

Sabalenka got the better of Swiatek last year at Madrid in three sets for the first win over her rival on clay. The two-time Australian Open champion was seeking a record-tying third title in Madrid.

“I had my opportunities,” Sabalenka said. “I wouldn’t say that I kind of missed them or lost them. It was just incredible play from her, and I think that’s the lesson I have to learn.”

Madrid was the only European clay-court tournament at the WTA 500 level or above that Swiatek had yet to win. Now her collection is complete.

On Sunday, Andrey Rublev plays Felix Auger-Aliassime in the men’s final.

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