In their third meeting over the course of five weeks, Aryna Sabalenka overcame a mid-match slump and turned into higher gear in the last two games to defeat Ashleigh Barty 6-0 3-6 6-4 in the final of the Mutua Madrid Open.
The fifth-seeded Sabalenka absolutely dominated the first set. The Belarusian hit 11 winners to just one unforced error and faced no break points as she served the top seed a bagel in 25 minutes.
In the second set, Sabalenka leveled from 0-2 to 2-2, but then she allowed to be broken again in the crucial fifth game and Barty marched into the decider.
The third set was steady until 4-4, when Sabalenka won two games in a row without dropping a point.
The 23-year-old Sabalenka, who had conceded only 18 games in her five matches preceding the final, the fewest of any Madrid finalist in the tournament’s history, ended Barty’s 16-match winning streak on European red clay.
By lifting the title, the 10th in her career, Sabalenka will crack the Top 5 for the first time, overtaking Sofia Kenin at No.4. Barty will remain the WTA No.1 after the Madrid Open, taking her total number of weeks at the summit to 75.