The final is all set for Saturday in Madrid as Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka both won their semi-finals in straight sets. It sets up a third meeting between Barty and Sabalenka in 2021 and their second consecutive final having contested the Stuttgart final two weeks ago. Read on for Thursday’s belated diary with a look back at how the semi-finals played out.
(1) Ash Barty d. Paula Badosa, 6-4 6-3
16 wins and counting for Ash Barty on red clay. This match was a replica of the scoreline when Barty and Badosa met in Charleston but with a different outcome. On that occasion, Barty went two out of 14 on break point conversions. This time round she was much more clinical, converting on three of six opportunities, although two of them were gifted by Badosa with double faults.
The first set was excellent and I thought Badosa played very well. The Spaniard landed a high percentage of first serves in play and seemed to target the Barty backhand, which I think was the right move. Barty’s pressure eventually told though with Badosa serving at *4-5 as Badosa missed a few first serves and Barty was able to land the first strike in on return.
Badosa immediately reset the momentum in the second with a break of the Barty serve. It was shortlived as Barty broke straight back and regained control, this time not losing grip. Barty’s backhand slice caused all kinds of havoc in the second set. I really admire Badosa’s attitude and this was a great run. I think the scoreline perhaps underplays how well she competed in this semi-final. Definitely one to watch for the rest of the clay court season and I think we can safely say none of the seeds at the French will want to draw her in the first round.
(5) Aryna Sabalenka d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-2 6-3
For a set and three quarters, this was PEAKKKK Sabalenka and one of the most impressive individual performances of the entire year so far. There was just a little wobble at the end as Sabalenka played a poor game at *5-1 in the second set to serve it out but she got it done second time round.
Sabalenka has been in devastating form all week. The serve, the power, it’s all there. She returned brilliantly against Pavs with so many returns back in play. Sabalenka built the points and was surprisingly precise. I also liked how Sabalenka used the angles and hit short cross-court balls which was a nice touch away from the obvious power.
A great tournament from Pavs. Not sure what else she could have done to snap Sabalenka’s rhythm.
Nice touch from Ash to clap Paula off court.
Favourite snap 📸
Final watchlist 📺
A preview of Saturday’s final between Ash Barty and Aryna Sabalenka can be found on the separate page here.
6 thoughts on “2021 WTA Madrid, Semi-Final Highlights: Barty vs. Sabalenka again for the title”
Just hoping Sabalenka can stay healthy this time. If she plays constantly on her highest level she wins.
Barty as good as ever to expose the other players weaknesses and playing on a consistent base level to get through all her matches. Credit to that but not my cup of tea, when it feels like you bringing other players game down.
I thought that was a very professional performance by Ashleigh Barty and it was good to see her being so sporting to her opponent at the end of the match.
I never took much notice of Paula Badosa before seeing her just get beaten by Ons Jabeur in Miami earlier this year. I have really enjoyed watching her play in her 2 WTA events since then. I have been reading up about her and apparently she has suffered a lot in the past from low confidence/mental health problems/dealing with Spanish media expectations so I hope that her two recent semi-final appearances will now give Paula the self-belief to progress further and gain her first WTA title.
The final will be interesting with the contrasting styles of play.
Much as I like Barty, I hope Sabalenka wins this one not least because I picked her in the bracket
Sabalenka is so powerful with what seems to be increasing accuracy that most players find it hard to negotiate. She seems to have an uncanny knack for shaking off her errors and continue with her barrage. Barty on the other hand is just a better tennis player – reading everything that Sabalenka can come up with and has enough variety to really trouble Sabalenka. I’m going for Barty.
Barty so sad you ending up like this; more tournaments ahead. Best of luck; that’s what we can say