Madrid Masters 2023: Finally, Sabalenka believes it | Sports

Madrid, land of pim, pam, pum, the territory where the ball flies beautifully, crowned Aryna Sabalenka for the second time and thus redoubled the threat of the Belarusian over number one, Iga Swiatek. The defeat of the Pole (6-3, 3-6 and 6-3, after 2h 25m) provides a beautiful scenario for the coming weeks, opening the possibility of a replacement on the throne, and above all reinforces the conviction of the champion, who lacked a dose of faith. “Before Australia, I learned to be more calm on the track, and from there everything started to be a bit different. My relationship with tennis, too. Now I trust myself more ”, affirms the one from Minsk, winner after a splendid epilogue in which her ambition prevailed. That’s right, here she is.

Sabalenka, 25, prevailed in a duel of alternatives in which she starred in the definitive turn, forceful in the third set and accurate when it came to closing the victory to achieve her second trophy in the Caja Mágica after the one won two years ago. when she beat Australian Ashleigh Barty. Once again, Madrid rewards speed; once again, she celebrates the best holster on the circuit, after the virtuoso tennis of Ons Jabeur was rewarded last year. He does not accustom the winner to flourish, but pushes and pushes until he expels the opponent from the ring. She has a pugilistic air to her game, one-two, one-two, with a clean whiplash until she achieves the ko.

Sabalenka burst onto the stage at the time and impressed, but the excess of momentum penalized that tennis player for doing until little by little she has discovered the pause. She doesn’t loosen up, but she doesn’t punish herself. And, above all, she reads better. Reconciled with himself, she has revealed herself as a fierce competitor, at times overwhelming; she hits like always, but she holds back when she should and her confidence has skyrocketed. To her spectacularity, she has added the plus of control and, once this version is achieved, it becomes very difficult for the rest of her to counteract it. Power, calm and security, the formula for success.

“I won thanks to how good the cake was…”, he said before raising the trophy, half jokingly, half seriously. Dart to the organization. The day before, May 5, the date of her birthday and also that of Carlos Alcaraz, the Spaniard had posed in front of a giant cake, while she had received a standard-size one. Now yes, Sabalenka believes it. At last. She is not less than anyone. Smiling and at the same time with a strong character, this year she is the main protagonist. She achieved her first major in Melbourne and now she throws an ordeal at Swiatek, happily installed at the top until the Belarusian has taken the final step forward, she squeezes him and goes for everything. Doubts vanished, she has found peace.

Charisma vs. indecision

There is no player who has more victories (29) than her this season and, above all, who has shown the greatest appetite in recent times. To this is added a magnificent evolution, especially technical. She also has charisma, so needed by the circuit of representatives that they engage after the departure of the great icon, Serena Williams, and she is running to lead while indecision predominates among the others.

Firm throughout the journey towards the final match – she only dropped one set, against Mayar Sherif in the quarterfinals – Sabalenka imposed her punch in this last confrontation with Swiatek, who lacked a daring point in the most delicate moments and that he succumbed to the incessant cannon fire of his adversary. Champion of Adelaide and the Australian Open, the one from Minsk added her 13th WTA title, the third on clay, and has established herself as the great rival of the Pole in the fight for the world throne.

Right now Swiatek is in charge, but in the coming weeks the Pole will have to defend the huge number of points achieved a year ago in Rome and Roland Garros, where she triumphed. Therefore, a luxury opportunity is presented for Sabalenka, an ambitious player who has managed to polish herself and correct the defect of the service – she hired a biomechanic to put an end to the evil of double faults – to become an increasingly dominant tennis player. Finalist this year also in Indian Wells (for Elena Rybakina) and Stuttgart (Swiatek), she was superior in a vibrant match that followed a balanced course until the third set, in which disorder began to prevail. From there, she rips and messes up. She weighed more than the arm of the Belarusian.

With two titles in Madrid, she joins Petra Kvitova (2011 and 2015), Serena (2012 and 2013) and Simona Halep (2016 and 2017). That is to say, Sabalenka begins to resize herself. Here she is.

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