Swiatek vs. Sabalenka, nine years since the women’s tour waited for a WTA 1000 final between the world’s two best players

The Madrid crowd will be spoiled on Saturday with a dream final between the two best players in the world. A rarity on the women’s circuit

Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka Image Credit: Tennis Majors, AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Seeing Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka face each other in the final of the WTA 1000 in Madrid is not surprising on paper. The world No 1, twice a champion at Roland-Garros, is currently the best player in the world on clay while the Belarusian is having the best season of her career in 2023.

But the Spanish public can consider themselves lucky because they will attend on Saturday an event quite rare on the women’s circuit. Indeed, the duel between Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka will be the first final between a world No 1 and No 2 in a WTA 1000 in nine years!!

In 2014, Serena Williams faced Li Na in the final of the Miami Open. Since then, there have been many WTA 1000 finals between a world No 1 and No 2, but never between them.

Swiatek vs Sabalenka: The rivalry that the WTA Tour was lacking

Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka already faced each other two weeks ago in the final of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart. This is only the third time in the last 40 years that the WTA No 1 and No 2 have met twice on clay in the same season.

The last time this happened was 10 years ago, when Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova faced each other in Madrid and then at Roland Garros. Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert also faced each other twice in 1984 at Amelia Island and Roland-Garros.

“I think it’s a good thing that we play so consistently and meet in the final,” Sabakenka told a news conference after reaching the Madrid final. “

The women’s circuit had found a boss in the person of Iga Swiatek but lacked a great rivalry to make things a little more exciting. The rise of Aryna Sabalenka could well fill this gap.

You always have to fight very, very hard against Iga. I’m ready for that.

Aryna Sabalenka

The Caja Magica will be the scene of the eighth match between Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka on the WTA Tour. The Pole currently leads the series 5-2 and 3-0 on clay. She has yet to lose a set to the Belarusian on this surface. In Stuttgart, the world No 1 dominated her rival 6-3, 6-4. But Sabalenka has learned her lesson and will not approach the Madrid final in the same way.

“I don’t need to rush. I have to wait for a good opportunity and I just have to take it and move forward. I think in Stuttgart, I rushed very hard as soon as I had a short ball. I tried to make winning shots directly. This time I will play with more desire and passion and I will wait until I have a better ball to try to finish the point.”

“These are always big battles. You always have to fight very, very hard against Iga. I’m ready for that. Last season I didn’t feel my best and it was really difficult to play against her because I didn’t have a lot of weapons. But now I understood that I can play well against her, that I can beat her. I feel good here in Madrid, I feel that the court is for me.”

Iga Swiatek will have the opportunity to win the 14th title of his career on Saturday, her sixth on clay. The Pole has never won in Madrid, which is the only major title that is missing from her resume. Meanwhile, Aryna Sabalenka can win her 13th title on Saturday and her second on clay. A win would make her the fourth player to win in the Spanish capital more than once, joining the likes of Serena Williams (2), Simona Halep (2) and Petra Kvitova (3).

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