Madrid, May 8 (EFE).- Aryna Sabalenka defeated world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 here Saturday in the women’s final at the Madrid Open.
On the men’s side, Alexander Zverev downed Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini prevailed over Casper Ruud to book their spots in Sunday’s final.
With her first clay-court title, the Belarusian Sabalenka is set to climb into the top five when the latest rankings come out next week.
She ended the Australian’s winning streak on clay at 16 matches, a string that included her victory against Sabalenka two weeks ago in the Stuttgart Open final.
Barty also came out on top when the two women faced each other last month in the quarterfinals in Miami.
Sabalenka lost only 18 games in her five matches to reach the final and she displayed the same form in Saturday’s first set against Barty, with 11 winners and a single unforced error.
But the best player in women’s tennis wasn’t going to go down without a fight. Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, battled back to win the second set and force a decider.
The women were level at 4-4 in the third when Sabalenka broke Barty and went on to win the 10th game to triumph 6-4.
Sabalenka won earlier this year in Abu Dhabi and has lifted four trophies in the past 12 months for a career total of 10.
Earlier Saturday, Zverev, fresh off his quarterfinal upset of five-time Madrid champion Rafael Nadal, avenged his loss to Dominic Thiem in the 2020 US Open final by dispatching the Austrian 6-3, 6-4.
“It’s been so far a good week for me,” the sixth-ranked German said after successive victories against the Spanish great and the world No. 4 to reach the Madrid Open final for the second time.
Zverev won the tournament in 2018.
His opponent on Sunday will be Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, who advanced to his first Masters 1000 final by defeating Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4.
Despite the gap between 10th-ranked Berrettini and Ruud, who is No. 25 in the world, the Norwegian was not to be taken lightly after toppling world No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier in the week.
And Ruud won the two previous matches between the two men, but Berrettini delivered a solid performance, losing just eight points on serve across the two sets.
The Madrid Masters is one of the biggest clay-court events of the year for both the men and women and a key tune-up for tennis’ most prestigious event on clay, the French Open, which gets under way on May 30. EFE