Sabalenka surges past Sakkari into second Madrid final

Aryna Sabalenka has beat No.9 seed Maria Sakkari to secure her spot in the finals of the Mutua Madrid Open for the second time in three years with a 6-4, 6-1 victory. Sabalenka, the defending champion, will face No.1 seed Iga Swiatek next. If she manages to win, it will become her fifth WTA 1000 title in her sixth appearance in a final at this level, her 13th in total and her third title of 2023. Sabalenka has already won Adelaide, the Australian Open and was the runner-up in Indian Wells and Stuttgart.

Sabalenka extended her head-to-head advantage against Sakkari to 6-3 in 1 hour and 25 minutes and won nine of the last 11 games in the match. Sabalenka won the first three games, but Sakkari hit back to take the next three. Sakkari had two further break points on Sabalenka’s serve to extend her run to four straight games, but she couldn’t manage to take the lead. Sabalenka broke Sakkari for a second time to wrap up a one-set lead from 30-0 down and dropped just one more game to seal her tour-leading 28th victory of the season.

After the match, Sabalenka had high praise for her own performance. “I think it was actually my best match of the tournament,” she said. “I started really well. Then Maria came back. But mentally I was staying really strong. I knew that she’s going to fight for every point. It didn’t, how to say, didn’t destroy me that she came back. I was still playing, I was still fighting for every point. Yeah, I’m super happy with the level that I played, and especially with my mental game.” This season, Aryna Sabalenka has been in great form, and if she continues like this, she might be the player to beat heading into the upcoming Grand Slams.

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