Sabalenka Barty

‘My game has improved a lot on clay’ – Aryna Sabalenka sets up Barty rematch in Madrid final

Aryna Sabalenka will play Ashleigh Barty for the third straight tournament after beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach the Madrid Open final.

The world No. 7 defeated the Russian 6-2, 6-3 in the semi-finals of the WTA 1000 event on Thursday – breaking four times and losing serve just once.

Sabalenka will face world No. 1 Barty in the title match after losing to the Australian in a three-set Stuttgart final just two weeks ago. The 23-year-old was also beaten in three sets by Barty in the Miami Open quarter-finals in March.

“I think my game has improved a lot on the clay court,” Sabalenka said in a post-match press conference. “For sure, it’s given me some confidence, but there’s still so many things to work on. I’m just really happy with my level here in Madrid.

“I think from the side it looks like everything is going my way. Some games I didn’t feel my serve. Some games something wasn’t working. It’s always part of the process. But I’m really happy that from the side, it looks like everything is going my way.

“Physically I have to be ready for this match (against Barty). She’s No. 1, she’s great. I played her in Stuttgart. It’s not an easy game. I will do everything I can to prepare myself as good as I can. Just looking forward for this battle.

“I’m just trying to stay positive and just trying to enjoy my life. But I was always like this, I’m always smiling, always having fun. Sometimes I have bad days.

“But when I’m here in Madrid and I’m playing my best and I see fans watching, there is nothing to be worried about and to be sad about. This week I’m definitely a happy person. Hopefully I just keep going like this.”

Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.