APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Swiatek dethrones Sabalenka in Madrid

She saved three match and championship points, and ended up on her back on the clay of the Manolo Santana Stadium. The tension of over three hours of relentless battle was finally released as tears rolled down her cheeks. One year on, Iga Swiatek has had her revenge on Aryna Sabalenka in a Mutua Madrid Open final that was comfortably one of the best matches in the tournament’s twenty-one editions and in the ten encounters between the two players (7-5, 4-6, 7-6 [7]).

The Pole now joins the list of world number ones in the winners’ circle at the Madrid WTA 1000, where Dinara Safina, Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep and Sabalenka herself have stepped before her. After 35 games, it was also the longest title bout in tournament history, surpassing the 33 games in 2017 when the Romanian saw off French player Kristina Mladenovic (7-5, 6-7[5], 6-2).

The match started with an exchange of service breaks, the first fell to Sabalenka, before Swiatek’s immediate response. Both players then upped their service game to carry the set through to game eleven, where the world No. 1 had her way with a winning cross-court forehand that was her fourteenth winner of a first set that clocked in at 61 minutes (7-5).

The Pole managed to contain her opponent’s reaction early in the second set. Sabalenka found a break in games two and four, while Swiatek broke back in three and five (3-3). The second seed managed to level the match in game ten (4-6), connecting with a forehand down the line, her twenty-fourth winner of the match, after a 52-minute set.

Much to the delight of the fans, as was the case in five of the last six finals in Madrid, the match was going to a decider. Before the final set got underway, the artificial lights flooded the court to compensate for the sun’s slow disappearance from the Madrid sky.

The final outing started just as the previous two had. Sabalenka broke early, in the fourth game, and Swiatek broke back in the fifth (3-3). Again, both players held their serves and the tension kept mounting in the Manolo Santana Stadium until a tiebreak was reached. First though, the defending champion had two match points on the return in game eleven and one more in the tiebreak. Swiatek, however, showed why she is the world No. 1 with a masterclass in survival (7-6 [9-7]).

The player from Warsaw won in the Caja Magica the ninth WTA 1000 of her career and her third of the season, after those in Doha and Indian Wells, taking her record to 21 wins from 23 matches played at tournaments in the category.