Aryna Sabalenka picks her spots to down clay maven

·2-min read
Aryna Sabalenka celebrates Credit: Alamy
Aryna Sabalenka celebrates Credit: Alamy

The huge rankings disparity between Aryna Sabalenka and her Round of 32 Madrid Open opponent Camila Osorio belied the risk posed by the Colombian.

Sabalenka identified a need to be patient and keep Osorio on the move.

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The world No 2 was relieved to get beyond Osorio who had made the most of a wildcard to reach the third round of the Madrid Open for the first time.

“I’m happy with the win,” Sabalenka said. “She’s a great player and she fought for every point. It was a really great match.”

Osorio was unable to crack Sabalenka’s power game. She fought valiantly to get back in the game after going behind early on (3-1). With the support of the Spanish audience, she saved two break points to cut the deficit to 3-2 before breaking Sabalenka to tie up the opening set.

After her erratic stretch, Sabalenka quickly found her bearings. She broke Osorio a second time to take the lead at 5-4 and maintained composure to serve out the opening set through a tough deuce game.

With a set already in the bank, Sabalenka played the first part of the second set with precision and great rythym.

Osorio requested a medical stoppage to evaluate her left hip and leg after Sabalenka gained a double-break advantage at 4-1. As soon as play resumed, Osorio broke Sabalenka, cutting the deficit to 4-3. As Sabalenka served for the match at 5-4, Osorio continued to advance toward an epic comeback, breaking the No 2 once more.

However it wasn’t to be for the world No 115; Sabalenka made a wise decision to keep the points short and hammered her way through Osorio’s serve for a fifth and final break, giving herself a second chance to serve out the victory. She remained steady this time. After nearly two hours, Sabalenka calmly served out the victory to end the match.

“That’s something that I expected, especially against players like her,” Sabalenka said after the win.

“She can return, she can play long rallies, and she can come back to the match. I just kept telling myself I have to keep going for my shots and I just have to make her move because she’s not going to move all day long. Once I will get this approach shot and I will be able to finish the point.

“So I was just telling myself to keep going for my shots and don’t start panicking.”

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