Ash Barty dropped her first bagel set since 2017 in a 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 upset loss in the final of the Madrid Masters on Saturday to Aryna Sabalenka, who won a 10th career title – her first on clay.
The win in one and three-quarter hours by the seventh seed earned revenge for Sabalenka a fortnight after she went down in the Stuttgart final to the Australian world No. 1.
Barty last lost a set to love at Toronto four years ago, with Spain’s Garbine Muguruza claiming that third-round clash.
Sabalenka laid on a little victory dance on court after fighting from 3-4 down in the final set and sweeping the last 10 points.
“It was incredible,” the winner told Spanish TV. “The atmosphere was spectacular.
“I have felt at home playing. Many thanks to the public for the support.”
Against Sabalenka, Barty found enough game to level the sets but was floored by a break of serve in the penultimate game before her Belarus opponent served out the title victory.
Barty and Sabalenka have now played three times since March, with the Australian also winning their Miami quarter-final.
Barty’s defeat meant the end of a career-best 16-match win streak on clay for the 2019 Roland Garros champion.
The on-form Sabalenka has now won four trophies since last autumn (Linz, Ostrava, Abu Dhabi and Madrid) and stands 33-6 during that period of six months-plus.
Her losses have come twice to Barty and Muguruza and once to Serena Williams.
Sabalenka’s ranking will rise for Monday’s start in Rome to a career-best No. 4, behind Barty, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep; she will displace Sofia Kenin.
Main photo:- Aryna Sabalenka with Madrid Masters trophy © Madrid Mutua Open