TENNIS – On Sunday, world number six Alexander Zverev beat Italy’s Matteo Berrettini to take the Madrid Open men’s title. A day earlier, Aryna Sabalenka shocked Ashleigh Barty to take the women’s title.
Aryna Sabalenka put on a powerful display to beat world number one Ashleigh Barty 6-0 3-6 6-4 and win the Madrid Open. A day later Alexander Zverev also took three sets to overcome Italy’s Berrettini, winning his second title in Madrid.
Sabalenka win unexpected
The Belarusian raced through the opening set in just 25 minutes, taking it 6-0. That was the first time in four years Barty failed to win a game in a set.
Sabalenka’s standard dropped in the second set as Barty dug deep to level the match. However, a sloppy service game from Barty at 4-4 in the third gave Sabalenka the advantage. She served out for the win.
This was a rematch from the Stuttgart final two weeks previously, were Barty came from a set down to win.
“To be honest, after the final in Stuttgart I was injured, I couldn’t move and wanted to withdraw,” Sabalenka said after she claimed her 10th career title. “But the recovery was good, in four days I feel better and now I’m the champion. It’s been an amazing week.”
Barty’s winning run on clay, which stretched back to Rome 2019, has now come to an end.
Sabalenka has never gone past the fourth round at a Grand Slam but will now be among the contenders at the French Open, which starts in Paris on 30 May.
Zverev wins second Madrid title
World number six Alexander Zverev recovered from losing the opening set to beat Matteo Berrettini and win his second Madrid Open title.
The German won 6-7 (8-10) 6-4 6-3 against the Italian world number 10. On his way to the final, Zverev beat Britain’s Dan Evans, world number 3 Rafael Nadal, and Dominic Thiem, ranked number four in the world.
Berrettini, 25, saved a match point in the third set but Zverev showed his strength to claim victory.
“I feel awesome,” Zverev said. “It’s great. This is definitely a special win. I just want to enjoy it. I didn’t play too many guys this week who can serve like him, so it was a difficult match.”
The tie-beak was an interesting game with Berrettini letting a 5-0 lead slip in the tie-break. Despite that, the Italian kept his composure to take the first set.
Zverev held serve comfortably throughout the second set and made the most of a loose service game from his opponent at 4-4 to send the match to a third set.
The Italian seemed to lose concentration in the third, making unforced errors which handed the German, set and match.
Nadal and Osaka win Laureus World Sports Awards
The Laureus World Sports Awards is an annual award ceremony honouring individuals and teams from the world of sports along with sporting achievements throughout the year. The awards were held in Seville, last Thursday.
2021’s Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year both came from the world of tennis.
Japan’s Naomi Osaka received the Sportswoman of the Year, with Rafael Nadal the men’s winner.
Osaka won the US Open in 2020, while Spaniard Nadal equalled Roger Federer’s record of 20 Grand Slam men’s titles by winning last year’s French Open.
Nadal said, “Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart to the Laureus World Sports. I have had some amazing competitors: the rest of the sportsmen probably deserve the trophy the same as me and I can’t be happier.”
Billie Jean King received the Lifetime Achievement Award. King is known for her equal rights work in tennis.
King, who won 39 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, said: “[Then] At 12 years old, I was thinking about my sport and I noticed everyone who played tennis wore white clothes, played with white balls and everyone who played was white.
“And I asked myself, where is everyone else? From that moment on, I decided to dedicate my life to equal rights and opportunities for all.
“I have a vision where the world of sports looks more like our world. Represented equally by people of all genders and all races and cultures, a world where we all have a seat at the table, a voice in the conversation and a chance to lead.”