June 20, 2024
Aryna Sabalenka

The defending champion surges into the Mutua Madrid Open semifinals for the third time in four years, booking a meeting with Elena Rybakina.

Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka completed the semifinal line-up at the 2024 Mutua Madrid Open, defeating Mirra Andreeva, 6-1, 6-4 in a rematch of their 2023 fourth round clash.

Aryna Sabalenka has had to battle throughout the first week of her title defense but the No. 2 seed ultimately overpowered the 17-year-old Andreeva in her first WTA 1000 quarterfinal after an hour and 19 minutes under the lights on Manolo Santana Stadium.

Sabalenka last played Andreeva en route to her second Madrid title 12 months ago, when the teenager rode a streak of 16 straight matches from a pair of W60 ITF Pro Circuit titles into the Round of 16 as a wild card barely ranked inside the Top 200. Since then, Andreeva has continued to turn heads on the game’s biggest stages, reaching the second week of Wimbledon and the 2024 Australian Open, stunning former world No. 2 Ons Jabeur in straight sets at the latter.

Unseeded at the Caja Magica, Andreeva, who recently hired coach Conchita Martinez, celebrated her 17th birthday with her third upset of the week, following up victories over No. 29 seed Linda Noskova and No. 7 seed Marketa Vondrousova with a straight-set win over No. 12 seed Jasmine Paolini to book the Sabalenka rematch.

Sabalenka, by contrast, has rarely had things her own way in her return to Madrid, struggling through three-setters against Magda Linette and Robin Montgomery before taking on streaking No. 13 seed Danielle Collins. From a set down, Sabalenka handed Collins, who won back-to-back titles at the Miami Open and Credit One Charleston Open, her first defeat since the BNP Paribas Open. The result meant Sabalenka had won three matches in a row for the first time since the Australian Open, where she lifted her second Grand Slam trophy.

The highly-anticipated contest went Sabalenka’s way to start; the 25-year-old tripled Andreeva’s winner count (17 to 5) to win the first set with the loss of just one game. The second set played out in similar style with Sabalenka blasting a backhand putaway to break, soon finding herself within two games of victory. With her back against the proverbial wall, Andreeva made her biggest push of the match, digging out of a tight service game and pressuring Sabalenka on the return.

Sabalenka was strong in her reply, turning the tables on Andreeva to hold on and engineer two match points. Though Andreeva saved both and kept battling, Sabalenka was unfazed, striking an ace for a third match point—this time on her own serve. Making no mistake this time, she outrallied Andreeva to ease over the finish line in straight sets.

In all, she struck a whopping 35 winners to just 13 unforced errors and made it through two sets without facing a single break point.

Up next for the defending champ is another intriguing match-up with No. 4 seed Elena Rybakina, who saved two match points to survive a clash with Yulia Putintseva earlier on Wednesday.

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