Ashleigh Barty Topples Reigning French Open Champion Iga Swiatek at Mutua Madrid Open 2021

Published 05/03/2021, 3:15 PM EDT
Tennis – WTA 500 – Stuttgart Open – Porsche-Arena, Stuttgart, Germany – April 23, 2021 Australia’s Ashleigh Barty in action during her quarter final match against Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova Pool via REUTERS/Marijan Murat

World number one Ashleigh Barty and the defending French Open champion Iga Swiatek faced off in the third round of the Mutua Madrid Open as the Australian defeated Swiatek in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. It was a battle of power vs skill as Barty’s experience of playing big matches helped her clinch a comfortable victory over the young Polish star.


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Ashleigh Barty and Iga Swiatek both fought hard in the first set

Iga Swiatek looked to put her aggressive play into use right from the start of the first set. Owing to this aggression, the Aussie struggled to hold her first service game.


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Usually, Barty tends to get sloppy during the initial stages of a match and later bounces back to tarnish the opponents. The Aussie made a few errors on the first service game, leaking an early lead 2-0 to Swiatek.

However, the Aussie was quick to bounce back as she had two break points on Swiatek’s serve. A nervous double fault by the Polish player brought the first set back on serve.

Each player used different tactics to handle the pressure from the other end. While Barty used her slice well to keep more balls in play,  Swiatek’s second serve returns were nothing short of extra-ordinary. Also, the kick-serve of Ash Barty on her second didn’t do much so far to contain speed of Swiatek.

Tennis – WTA 500 – Stuttgart Open – Porsche-Arena, Stuttgart, Germany – April 23, 2021, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty reacts during her quarterfinal match against Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova Pool via REUTERS/Marijan Murat

At 3-3, it’s the turn of the Aussie to extract errors from Swiatek. The young Polish player looked to be in a bit of trouble at 30-30 in that game, but a couple of great second-serves sealed the deal as she leads 4-3.

Swiatek used a lot of spin on her second-serve as it made life difficult for Barty to slice the ball perfectly. Also, the Polish star managed to hit more balls exactly on the baseline, creating more troubles for Barty.

Consecutive double-faults from Swiatek gave a narrow opening for Barty to clinch the breakpoint at 5-5 in the set. However, the Aussie made back-to-back errors on the forehand wing to level the score at 30-30.

Thanks to another double-fault from Swiatek, Barty got her first break-point opportunity and the world number one grabbed it with both hands after a forehand from her opponent went long.

Serving for the first set at 6-5, Barty made it impossible for Swiatek to have any momentum on the return as the former hit back-to-back winners on the forehand and took the first set 7-5.

It was a tightly contested first-set as Iga Swiatek looked to play big but couldn’t control her double-faults count and lost to Barty, who made sure to do the basics right.


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Swiatek wasn’t able to handle the pressure from Barty in the second set

In her first service game, Swiatek looked as if she forgot the first set already and made a quick-hold of serve with her typical variety of shots. As expected, the young Polish star started to dominate her opponent’s serve with her big-hitting.

But the Australian was sensible enough to know that she had to keep playing to her strengths to win the set and, eventually, the match.

In her immediate service game, Swiatek failed to find the line on both her forehand and the backhand as she was down two break-points. A mistimed drop shot by Swiatek gave the world number one enough time to hit a forehand cross-court passing return winner to take a lead of 2-1 in the set.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Poland’s Iga Swiatek in action during her second-round match against Italy’s Camila Giorgi REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

But Swiatek was not ready to give up on the match yet. After a couple of big forehands, the Polish star comfortably held the service to ensure the lead was as little as possible.


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The Polish player was able to bring the momentum back in her favor after three explosive forehands forced Barty to make back-to-back errors and gave three break-point opportunities to Swiatek.

But the 2020 French Open champion couldn’t storm past the mental fortitude of the Aussie as the latter saved all the break-points to lead the set 4-2. The match was slowly slipping away from the hands of Swiatek.

Serving for the match at 5-4 in the set, Barty maintained her command over the defending French Open champion with crisp first-serves and managed to reach the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open.


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Sagar Ashtakoula

81 articles

Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Having developed an interest in creating content, he mixed his passion for writing with his love for tennis for 2 years at SportsKeeda before joining the tennis team at EssentiallySports.