By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Thursday, May 4, 2023
Aryna Sabalenka nearly knocked Iga Swiatek down in last month’s Stuttgart final.
The second-ranked Sabalenka believes she has the game to take the world No. 1 out if they meet in a Madrid final rematch.
The second-ranked Sabalenka stormed through five straight games sweeping Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-1 to roll into her second Mutua Madrid Open final in the last three years.
Australian Open champion Sabalenka will face either the top-seeded Swiatek or 12th-seeded Veronika Kudermetova in Saturday’s final.
If Sabalenka and Swiatek square off it will be a rematch of their fiery Stuttgart final last month.
Swiatek unloaded a flurry of forehands fighting off Sabalenka 6-3, 6-4, to successfully defend her Stuttgart title in a final rematch that buzzed with brilliant running strikes and bubbled with bad blood between tennis’ two top players.
A chilly handshake ended a fiery final that saw Swiatek raise her Stuttgart record to an immaculate 8-0 becoming the first woman since Angelique Kerber in 2016 to defend Stuttgart.
Sabalenka, who nearly nailed Swiatek with a smash in Stuttgart, said she understands how she can topple the top seed.
“It’s always great battles. You always have to fight really, really hard against Iga,” Sabalenka said. “I’m ready for that.
“I would say that before like our first matches last season when I didn’t feel my best, it was really tough to play against her because I didn’t have so much weapons. I had my character and that’s it.
“Later on the season when I fixed my serve, I understand that actually I can play well against her, I can beat her.”
Hugs from Papa Swiatek before driving home with another Porsche 🫂🥲@iga_swiatek remains undefeated at the @PorscheTennis Grand Prix! 🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/eDlWSRWeZD
— wta (@WTA) April 23, 2023
While Sabalenka showed she’s willing to do whatever it takes to take down the No. 1, including hit through her, Swiatek showed she can stand up to the blows of an explosive major champion keep calm and retain her winning edge.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek has won five of seven meetings vs. Sabalenka, including winning all six sets they’ve played on clay courts.
Still, Sabalenka believes her ability to rush Swiatek on the forehand side can be a crucial weapon in their rematch.
“I mean, it’s going to be really amazing if I can beat a player like Iga on clay court. Yeah, as I said, I don’t have to rush things,”…
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