“Have to Tip Your Hat and Say Too Good” – Ashleigh Barty Reflects on Madrid Open 2021 Loss to Aryna Sabalenka

Published 05/09/2021, 4:10 AM EDT
Tennis – WTA 1000 – Madrid Open – Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – May 6, 2021 Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in action during her semi final match against Spain’s Paula Badosa Gibert REUTERS/Juan Medina

Women’s World No.1 Ashleigh Barty paid a rich compliment to Aryna Sabalenka after the latter snapped her unbeaten run on clay to lift the Madrid Open title.


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The 25-year-old Australian, who took the momentum from back-to-back clay court titles at Charleston and Stuttgart to Madrid and extended her winning streak to the final, didn’t have an answer to the Belarussian’s big serves and incredible hitting, eventually going down in three sets in the championship clash on Saturday.

Putting the 2019 French Open champion to the sword from the moment the chair umpire called ‘play,’ Sabalenka bageled her in the opening set. Though Barty fought back to win the second set, the Belarussian recovered to take the decider and lift her first title on clay.


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The 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 win also took Sabalenka to her 10th career Tour title.

Speaking to reporters after the match, the Australian conceded that she couldn’t do much in the face of the sustained assault by the World No.7.

Ashleigh Barty says Sabalenka pulled out her big serves in key moments

Barty said Sabalenka pulled out her bullet serves on “big points” and she couldn’t match the intensity and aggression that her opponent sustained right through the contest.

She added that the Belarusian player put the squeeze on her serves from the start and didn’t do much wrong with her own.

“Right from the get-go she put me under the pump on my service games. She served well in the big moments,” Barty said.

The Australian, who was in sight of her fourth title this year in Madrid, said her opponents served at 190-plus at crucial moments in the match and it proved too hot to handle for her.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Madrid Open – Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain – May 6, 2021 Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka celebrates winning her semi final match against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova REUTERS/Sergio Perez

“You have to tip your hat and say too good when she comes up with serves at 185, 190+ on big points. That’s why she’s a very, very fierce competitor. Great athlete,” the World No.1 said.

“Takes the ball out of my court”: Barty on Aryna Sabalenka

On being blanked in the opening set, Barty said Sabalenka nearly took the racquet off her hand with her sizzling serves. 


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“She takes the ball out of my court and takes the racquet out of my hand when she serves the way she did in the first set,” the Aussie said.


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She added that it was definitely not the last bagel that she suffered at the hands of the Belarussian and she will fight to find her way back into the contest “each and every time.”


Priyabrata Chowdhury

1003 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.