Aryna Sabalenka took revenge for a loss two weeks ago to Iga Swiatek as she won the Madrid Masters over the world No. 1 with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 scoreline on Saturday.
The reigning Australian Open champion was defeated by her Polish rival in the Stuttgart title match last month She claimed her second success in the Spanish capital after lifting the trophy in 2021 over Ash Barty.
Swiatek had won 12 of her last 14 finals and now drops to 5-3 in the rivalry.
After losing the opener, Swiatek got away to a 3-0 lead with a break but lost it in the fifth game on a fourth break point.
But the top seed nosed ahead 5-3 to level the final at a set apiece.
Sabalenka retaliated with an early break in the deciding set but lost it midway through and lost her serve again in the penultimate game to go down in two and a half hours on her opponent’s fourth match point.
Swiatek had defeated Sabalanka in all three of their previous matches on clay and lost just two games in reaching the final
She was playing her eighth career final on clay and owns 13 trophies; she had never won a set off of Swiatek on clay.
Sabalenka won her WTA-leading 29th match this season as she claimed her third title of the season after Adelaide and Melbourne; she now owns 13 career titles.
The champion finished with 32 winners, with Swiatek managing only 17.
Swiatek said she was outplayed on the night.
“We both played on a good level, but she was better today. It’s hard for me to analyse right now.
“It was about a few shots that I could have played a little bit better. She played some shots that were risky.
“I could have been more proactive, but honestly, I think we both played good. I don’t have any big regrets.”
Sabalenka, now 4-8 against reigning No. 1 players, was pleased in victory.
“It was a great match, a super tough battle,” the winner said. “I’m super happy right now with this title.
“It’s always been a tough battle against Iga. She pushed me to the limits. I really enjoy our matches.
“Hopefully we can play many more finals this season.”
She added: “I stuck to my plan; that was the key today. I didn’t over-rush things and I was waiting for a better shot to go for powerful shots.
“I stuck to the plan from the beginning till the end.”
Main photo:- Aryna Sabaklenka lifts 2023 Madrid Masters Trophy