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Defending champion Sabalenka beaten by nemesis Anisimova in Madrid

The Belarussian has now lost all four of her matches with Anisimova

Aryna Sabalenka Imago / Panoramic

When Aryna Sabalenka reached the final in Stuttgart last week, it seemed like the Belarussian had turned a corner after a poor start to 2022.

But on Thursday, her demons returned as she was beaten 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 by Amanda Anisimova in the first round of the Madrid Open, the fourth time she’s lost to the American and the second time on clay this year. It’s the fifth time she’s lost in the first round this year.

World No 4 Sabalenka had endured a horrible start to the year, with double faults regularly in the teens and just one quarter-final with her name.

In Stuttgart, she looked more like her usual self and even against world No 33 Anisimova, there were plenty of good moments but also eight double faults and Anisimova held on to beat Sabalenka for the second time this year, adding to her win in Charleston.

Anisimova will take on Petra Martic of Croatia in the second round.

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