ryna Sabalenka made it into the final of the Madrid Open as she swatted aside Maria Sakkari 6-4 6-1.
Sabalenka turned in a comprehensive, powerful display that Sakkari ultimately had few answers to, and the world No. 2 will now await the winner of Iga Swiatek or Veronika Kudermetova in Saturday’s final.
Speaking to Prime Video afterwards, Sabalenka was clear about who she wants to face.
‘There’s no failure in sports’ – Why Sakkari’s semi-final record deserves respect’There’s no failure in sports’ – Why Sakkari’s semi-final record deserves respect
“I want to play Swiatek,” she said. “It’s always great battles with her, tough matches and I like to be in a battle.
“And I want to get this revenge (for her recent final loss to the Pole in Stuttgart).
“It’s just a magical season so far, and hopefully I can keep going this way.
“I think one of the keys for today’s match was my mental preparation. I knew that she [Sakkari] was going to fight for every point and I knew that it was going to be tough.
“Every time she was making these crazy shots I was telling myself ‘that’s ok, it’s semi-finals, it should be like that, just keep fighting’.
“[For now] I’m going to focus on the final, and after the final I’m going to celebrate my birthday [which falls on May 5], and hopefully something else.”
Much had been made during the run-up to the encounter of Sakkari’s numerous WTA semi-final appearances over the past two years, reaching 20 of them since the start of 2021 – the same number as Iga Swiatek, but with few titles to show for it.
It is that ceiling that Sakkari has been looking to smash through, but the portents were ominous early on in Madrid as Sabalenka stormed into a 3-0 lead courtesy of a break of serve in the second game.
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Sakkari got on the board in the next game and after finally settling into the match, next carved out two break points – the first of which she took.
An epic sixth game followed as the Greek fought tooth and nail to hold onto the break she had just clawed back, saving four break points before finally coming through that test to level up at 3-3.