Fixture: (1) Ashleigh Barty vs (5) Aryna Sabalenka
Date: 8 May 2021
Tournament: Mutua Madrid Open 2021
Venue: Madrid, Spain
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €2,549,105
Match timing: Not before 6.30 pm local time, 10 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Ashleigh Barty vs Aryna Sabalenka preview
Top seed Ashleigh Barty has been extremely impressive in Madrid this week. The 25-year-old has taken down strong opponents like Petra Kvitova and Iga Swiatek to reach the final of the tournament. Moreover, three out of her five wins have come in straight sets, including the 6-4, 6-3 result against Paula Badosa in the semifinals.
Barty has, in fact, been phenomenal all year, making at least the quarterfinals of every tournament she'd competed in bar Adelaide. She has already won three titles in 2021, with Madrid being her fourth final.
The World No. 1 has made an exceptional return to the tour after an 11-month break due to the pandemic, and many believe she is the overwhelming favorite to win Roland Garros this year.
Aryna Sabalenka has been in great form herself. The Belarusian has made it to the quarterfinal stage of her last three tournaments, while also reaching the final in Stuttgart.
Sabelenka has been excellent in Madrid so far and hasn't dropped a set in any of her five matches. In fact, the World No. 5 has been so dominant that she's not conceded more than three games in any set; Sabalenka has romped through every contest with ease and efficiency.
After losing a close final in Germany last month, she will be keen to turn the tables this time around.
Ashleigh Barty vs Aryna Sabalenka head-to-head
Ashleigh Barty and Aryna Sabalenka have played seven matches against each other, with the Australian leading the head-to-head by a 4-3 margin.
The duo met in the Stuttgart final last month, where Barty fought back after going a set down to win 3-6, 6-0, 6-3. She also defeated Sabalenka in the quarterfinals at Miami in March.
Ashleigh Barty vs Aryna Sabalenka prediction
If the last two matches between the two players and their recent form are any indication, this promises to be a tight contest. While Ashleigh Barty will likely be more self-assured going into the final, Aryna Sabalenka will have a point to prove.
Barty, who has already fired 35 aces in the tournament, will hope to win a few easy points with her powerful serve. Her efficient groundstrokes, particularly the forehand, will also be key against the Belarusian.
Sabalenka will not be an easy opponent, to say the least. Her powerful hitting from the baseline is difficult to negotiate, especially in longer rallies. The 23-year-old has a big serve herself, and she has always shown a remarkable ability to shake off her unforced errors and continue pounding the ball.
This will likely be a match of fine margins, but Barty's variety and momentum might just tip the scales in her favor ever so slightly.
Prediction: Ashleigh Barty to win in three sets.