Iga Swiatek secures first Madrid title with dramatic win over Aryna Sabalenka

Iga Swiatek produced a stunning fightback to battle past Aryna Sabalenka and win the Madrid Open title after a high-quality final which lasted more than three hours.

The world number one had taken the opening set before Sabalenka, looking to retain her title at Manolo Santana Stadium, regained momentum to level and then forged 3-1 ahead in the decider.

Swiatek, though, showed all of her experience to mount a recovery and save three match points before coming through a tense tie-break to complete a 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7) victory.

World number two Sabalenka had two championship points when leading 6-5 at the end of the deciding set, but was unable to convert either as Swiatek again dug in to find a winning return at the crucial moment.

The first six points of the tie-break stayed on serve before a booming forehand from Sabalenka brought up a mini-break, but Swiatek immediately recovered again.

With the scores locked again at 5-5, Sabalenka sent a return long to give Swiatek a mini-break and her first championship point of the match only for the Belarussian to produce an ace.

Swiatek was then left serving to save the match after another over-hit forehand, but again Sabalenka could not make the most of her chance, with two long returns swinging momentum back to the world number one.

Sabalenka, 25, lashed over another backhand, which dropped just out of the court as Swiatek completed a remarkable recovery.

Swiatek had lost only one set across her five wins in Madrid on the way to setting up a repeat of last year’s final, which Sabalenka had won in three sets.

The 22-year-old Pole, already a three-time champion at Roland Garros, has now secured the one big European clay tournament which had eluded her.

“It is always a challenge playing against you Aryna, so thanks for motivating me and forcing me to be a better player,” Swiatek said on court after winning her 20th career title.

“Thanks to my team for sticking with me through ups and downs. I hope we are going to continue progressing.”

Sabalenka paid tribute to Swiatek’s efforts.

“Congrats on another great tournament Iga, you are doing an incredible job and hopefully next year it (title) goes to me,” Sabalenka said during the presentation ceremony, broadcast on Sky Sports.

“It was a great match and a long one, hopefully we will recover well for the next tournament.”

Sourse: breakingnews.ie

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