Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button
NewsScoresRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastShopPro GearPickleballGear Sale

Popular This Week

Net Notes - A Tennis Now Blog

Net Posts

Industry Insider - A Tennis Now Blog

Industry Insider

Second Serve - A Tennis Now Blog

Second Serve


By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday May 5, 2024

How did Iga Swiatek weather the challenges of an in-form Aryna Sabalenka and beat back the pressure facing three championship points on her way to a dramatic 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(7) triumph at Madrid?

By getting loose and taking a page from the King of Clay's playbook.

Tennis Express

The World No.1 says she took inspiration from Rafael Nadal’s incredible comeback in the 2022 Australian Open final, where the Spaniard rallied from a two set and break deficit to defeat Daniil Medevev for what was his 21st major title.

"I remember exactly when he was playing Medvedev in Australia, and it clicked for him," Swiatek told reporters after winning her 20th title. "He also struggled for a bit of time, he was tense, and I think stressed.

"That kind of gave me hope that maybe it will click, even after two hours."

Nadal has also made great comebacks in Madrid, like the time he saved three match points to defeat Djokovic in Madrid in 2009, in one of the best matches of that iconic rivalry.

Swiatek, now a mind-blowing 71-10 on clay for her career, said that she didn’t really feel her game on Saturday in the same way that she had in previous rounds. The Pole had waltzed through, dropping just 20 games in five matches to reach the final. But the challenges that Sabalenka presented with her heavy and bold strikes, plus the intensity of the high-stakes final, left the 22-year-old feeling a little out of sorts.

Swiatek said it took her a few sets to really find her comfort zone in the match. Even then, she had to scramble and fight off a trio of match points to get the win.

“For most of the match, I was really trying to loosen up a little bit more,” she said. “I felt like I can play better because I played better here in my past matches. It was hard to do that and also actually work on how you have to play against Aryna. So there were a lot of thoughts and a lot of work that I had to do in my head.”

To face Sabalenka in Madrid, where she had been so dominant in the fast conditions at play, is a unique challenge, and one that Swiatek will no doubt gain confidence from overcoming.

“Aryna is a really intense player, and when it's going in, you play a lot of rallies in defense. That was, for sure, a challenge today,” she said.

“But I think it was more about who's going to be less stressed and who's going to be able to play with more freedom. I think actually for most of the match, she played more… courageous. I was, sometimes, a little bit back. So at the end, I just wanted to not do that and to also be courageous.”