APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Sabalenka feels at home

A broad smile seems to be a permanent fixture on the face of Aryna, the defending champion. Sabalenka was in a buoyant mood as she turned up at the 2024 Mutua Madrid Open Media Day where dozens of journalists awaited. It is no surprise, Sabalenka arrives in the Spanish capital with a chance of winning her third title.

Only Petra Kvitova has won three times in Madrid. Aryna is vying to make history and tie the Czech. In addition, since Simona Halep mounted a successful title defence, no female player has managed to do the double. It is another feat the two-time major winner has in her sights.

The current world No. 2 is enjoying playing in the Caja Mágica and was keen to express that fact to the cameras that were jostling to get her in their frame: “I’m so happy, I have great memories of my victories here in Madrid. The atmosphere, the courts, I love everything about Madrid, I’m very happy to be here once again”. She is, quite simply, in her element. The conditions in Madrid fit her game like a glove and she enjoys everything about the city: “I love so many places in this city and I love going out to dinner after practice”. It certainly seems like Aryna feels at home. She has been practising at the tournament venue for three days and things are going according to plan.

In Madrid, we now have the chance to enjoy the women’s ‘big three’, who are dominating tennis; world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, Sabalenka herself, and Kazakh player Elena Rybakina. The three of them appear to be embarking on a rivalry that could create history in women’s tennis. Last year, the Pole and Sabalenka regaled us with one of the best finals of the season, with the two-time Australian Open champion taking the spoils. “I think we make each other better”, said Sabalenka.

The 25-year-old player also took the time to dedicate some words to home favourite Paula Badosa. They are colleagues on tour and also great friends: “We’ve been friends for three or four years, she’s a great person and I’m so grateful to have a person I love so much on the tour. I’ve found a soulmate and I’m so happy to have her close”.

Sabalenka wished her a speedy recovery: “She’s the best and I hope she can recover her fitness as soon as possible”. In fact, she said that they spoke this morning about their feelings and experiences dealing with such situations. However, having played the Catalonian twice in recent weeks, a laughing Sabalenka said she is happy not to cross paths with her in the first round: “Her connection with the fans is great and it would have been very difficult to beat”.

Aryna Sabalenka also recognises Nadal as someone she takes inspiration from: “Rafa is incredible, it’s indescribable what he’s achieved. I love how he fights and never gives up. He’s a legend”.

Sabalenka is feeling at home, and she is about to embark on a campaign to complete her personal triple crown in the Spanish capital.