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May 2, 2024 6:23 pm

Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka set up 1-2 final at Madrid

iga swiatek

The top two players in the world are booked for the final of the Mutua Madrid Open.

After World No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland cruised past 18th-seeded Madison Keys 6-1, 6-3 in one semifinal Thursday in Spain, No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus rallied from a first-set defeat and pulled out a 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (5) victory over No. 4 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan.

Saturday’s final will mark a rematch of last year’s, when Sabalenka prevailed 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. It will also be the first meeting between Swiatek and Sabalenka of 2024 and 10th in their careers.

“I’m happy that we can play a final against the top players,” Swiatek said Thursday before knowing her final opponent. “It shows consistency. For sure it’s going to be a challenge, whoever it’s gonna be, and a tough match. I will be ready. I will focus on myself.”

Although Keys held a 5-0 edge over Swiatek in aces, she could only turn that into a 53.6 percent winning rate on her first-serve points (15 of 28). Swiatek defended well, saving all three break points she faced, while breaking Keys’ serve four times in five opportunities.

Swiatek wrapped things up in a mere 70 minutes.

“It was a pretty clean performance and really solid game from myself. I’m happy with everything,” Swiatek said.

Rybakina twice broke Sabalenka in the first set and cruised to an easy 6-1 margin. Sabalenka then found herself down 3-1 and 4-2 in the second set — major trouble.

By winning five of the final six games of that set, Sabalenka staved off a quick exit. Both players held serve throughout the third set, but Sabalenka, the back-to-back Australian Open champion, raced ahead 5-1 in the tiebreaker before winning on her third match point.

Sabalenka also won Madrid in 2021. Swiatek is 2-0 in finals this season, winning WTA 1000 events in Doha and Indian Wells.

–Field Level Media

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