Sabalenka, champion to the bravas

In the trend that has dangerously taken over tennis in modern times, the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka won the Caja Mágica in Madrid. That is, the one that hits the ball the strongest. Faced with the cerebral approach of the number one, Ashleigh Barty, the 23-year-old champion, asserted her proposal of vertigo and viscerality, from start to finish with the mallet in hand to round off a tournament in which she has been the strongest and the best, without discussion. The 6-0, 3-6 and 6-4 of the final (in 1h 39m) helped her to raise her most valuable trophy and to become the second youngest winner of the event, behind the Czech Petra Kvitova, who was crowned in 2011 with 21 years.

Sabalenka asserted his punch in a duel of contrasts, which brought together two deeply radical proposals: the power of one against the academicism of the Australian, which 13 days ago had gotten away with it in the clash between the two in Stuttgart. This time, the Herculean right of the Belarusian prevailed, a tennis player who processes the game in only one direction, from racket to racket until the other falls or she goes to the mat by herself. No half measures, Russian roulette. An all or nothing that this time worked for him, largely because unlike other days he did not completely lose his temper and channeled the nerve in the most appropriate direction.

He stampeded from the first ball in play. From zurriagazo to zurriagazo, she overwhelmed the number one in the first set and astonished the attendees who approached the San Fermín neighborhood yesterday; half a thousand from the start, and a half more after the first break. In the box reserved for the authorities, the mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, saw first-hand how Sabalenka’s heavy ball flows. In one of his cannon shots, he hit the frame and when he fell, the ball bounced off a seat to immediately collide with the representative of the Popular Party. There was no disgust, there was a laugh, and then the Belarusian storm continued.

It so happens that after hitting the bag with so much force, it broke down and Barty took advantage of it to recover some ground and lead the litigation to where it best suited him. That is, he put his rival to think and run, opening angles and tactically cornering her. There is no tennis player more brainy than the Australian and thus she managed to prolong the clash, finally resolved to the points. Although he threatened to lose control a couple of times, on the verge of mental syncope, Sabalenka ended up imposing his acceleration, with serves that exceed 190 kilometers per hour – much faster than those of many players on the men’s circuit – and a shower of blows winners: 34 in total, nine of them in the form of direct aces.

In this way, the Minsk bomber – 1.82 in height, with a tiger tattooed on her left forearm as a letter of introduction – finished an exceptional tournament, in which she has overwhelmed whoever came out of her way. On the way to the final, he had only handed over 18 games, not a single set. It is his first success on clay, the tenth on his record and the most important of his entire career. It relieves the winner of 2019, the Dutch Kiki Bertens, and ascends to the fourth step of the ranking, behind Barty herself, Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep. He issued a warning in passing: in the face of Roland Garros, let no one rule out the furious Sabalenka.

“A couple of years ago I was going crazy on the court, almost in every game, and that has changed. The more experience you have, the better you understand what to do and what you can control or what not, “he said. “Before I thought that this surface was not for me, but now I am showing my game,” he continued during the appearance before journalists. “Win a Grand Slam? The tricky thing is to do this in a big one. In those tournaments everything is different, harder. I do not know if I will be able to achieve it this year, but I will do everything possible to reach my highest level in one of them, “he concluded.

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