Iga Swiatek defeats Aryna Sabalenka for her first Mutua Madrid Open title

Swiatek and Sabalenka battled for over three hours in an instant classic
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The words "instant classic" are sometimes overused but not in this case. World No. 1 Iga Swiatek faced World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka for the 2024 Mutua Madrid Open championship. Sabalenka is the two-time defending champion, and Swiatek has never won this WTA 1000 tournament.

Fans saw Sabalenka's power and Swiatek's precision on display for a three-hour three-set match. A third-set tiebreak was necessary to decide the champion. It was ironically the first career-deciding set tiebreak in a final for either player and between the two, they have appeared in 50 finals. This is the eighth straight final that Swiatek won.

Swiatek faced three championship points and fought them off. She may have been nervous but did not show it; she played the big points well. Sabalenka was equally great, very little separated the two. Their unforced errors against each other were due to each trying to take the other out of her game.

Iga Swiatek's resume continues to grow

Swiatek joins an elite group of players who won 20 career titles before the age of 23 since 2000. They are Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, and Caroline Wozniacki. 13 of the 20 Swiatek's titles came at Grand Slams and WTA 1000 level tournaments.

Her fitness is understated as is Sabalenka's. The two never looked winded; they just kept hitting. Sabalenka spent more time on the court this week with long three-set matches which may be the only distinction between them. When she accepted the trophy, Swiatek thanked Sabalenka for "forcing me to be a better player."

Both are deserving of their rankings, and each was a winner today. That is how close this match was. Going into Roland Garros, this is the caliber of tennis fans hope to see at the clay court Grand Slam. The question will be if we see a rematch between these two players. Swiatek is a three-time French Open champion while Sabalenka is seeking her first title at Roland Garros.

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