Madrid | Swiatek, Rybakina and Jabeur sail into quarters, as Sabalenka fights to end Collins run

While Iga Swiatek, Elena Rybakina and Ons Jabeur sailed into the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open on Monday, Aryna Sabalenka had her hands full again but prevailed to end Danielle Collins’ 15-match winning streak, and Coco Gauff and Maria Sakkari stumbled to Madison Keys and Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The biggest thing I remember is it was really tight in the first set,. The tiebreak was stressful. I remember the crowd also being crazy, because Brazilian crowd is taking all these instruments with them, and making small music festival on the audience. So it was, for sure, different experience, a good one but tough to handle. It was a really intense match. I wouldn't expect an easy match against Bia, for sure. Iga Świątek

Also into the Last 8 are Mirra Andreeva and Yulia Putintseva, with upset wins over Jasmine Paolini and Daria Kasatkina.

Sabalenka is the defending champion and a 2-time winner in Madrid, but the favourite to lift the trophy this week is Swiatek, who ripped through Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo, 6-1 6-0, and has lost just 9 games in her 3 matches so far.

The 22-year old Pole is so relaxed that she took a full day off on Sunday.

“I went to eat some great seafood,” the World No 1 said after her demolition of Sorribes Tormo. “I was at the park. Just walking around, looking for something to shop.”

A runner-up last year to Sabalenka, Swiatek is bidding for a first Madrid title, which is the only clay-court WTA 1000 level or above tournament that she has yet to win.

Sorribes Tormo was the last home player standing, and she had proven to be a real problem for 2 former Top 3 players, ousting Elina Svitolina and Victoria Azarenka through indefatigable defence and shotmaking on the run.

Swiatek made an impatient start, dropping serve in the opening game, thanks to a double-fault and 3 cheap forehand errors, but she was quick to bring in her margins, and used her raw pace to elicit rare errors from the Spaniard.

The last 2 games of the first set were the tightest, and featured the best points of the contest as Sorribes Tormo successfully extended the rallies and brought her lobs and drop-shots into play, but it failed to rattle Swiatek as she won her share of long exchanges, demonstrating the point construction she needed to stay a step ahead of the World No 55.

After pocketing the opener, Swiatek rolled on, flashing her forehand and slamming home drive volleys to sweep through the second, winning the outing in 67 minutes, and dropping just 5 points while delivering yet another bagel.

Beatriz Haddad Maia powered past Maria Sakkari to set up a Last 8 contest with Iga Swiatek in Madrid

© Oscar Del Pozo/AFP via Getty Images

Swiatek next will face No 11 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia from Brazil, who upset Maria Sakkari, the 5th seed from Greece, 6-4 6-4, to score her 11th career Top 10 win, and 2nd of 2024.

Haddad Maia improved her record to 4-0 against Sakkari in their first meeting on clay, which put the Brazilian into her 2nd quarter-final of 2024.

Back in 2022, Swiatek lost her first career meeting with Haddad Maia in the Toronto 3rd-round, a 6-4 3-6 7-5, which the Brazilian used as a springboard to reach her first WTA 1000 final.

The Pole got her revenge in last year’s Roland Garros semi-finals, but had to battle hard for it, saving a set point before scraping through, 6-2 7-6(7), but their 3rd meeting in this year’s United Cup was rather more straightforward, with a 6-2 6-2 rout for the World No 1.

“The biggest thing I remember is it was really tight in the first set,” said Swiatek of their Roland Garris tussle. “The tiebreak was stressful.

“I remember the crowd also being crazy, because Brazilian crowd is taking all these instruments with them, and making small music festival on the audience. So it was, for sure, different experience, a good one but tough to handle. It was a really intense match. I wouldn’t expect an easy match against Bia, for sure.”

World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka came from a set down to end Danielle Collins' 15-match winning streak in the Madrid Last 16 on Monday night

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

In the night match, Sabalenka came from a set down to defeat Collins, the red-hot American, 4-6 6-4 6-3, and reached her first WTA 1000 quarter-final of the season.

A champion in Madrid in 2021 and 2023, Sabalenka is bidding to become the first 3-time champion at the Caja Magica since Petra Kvitova, and will face 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva on Wednesday for a spot in her first WTA 1000 semi-final since 2023 Cincinnati, in a rematch of last year’s 4th-round duel, which the Belarusian handily won, 6-3 6-1.

Buoyed by back-to-back titles in Miami and Charleston, Collins, ranked 15, came into her 5th meeting with Sabalenka looking for her first win. All 4 of Sabalenka’s previous victories came on hard courts, including 3 at the US Open.

Sabalenka was slow out of the blocks, quickly falling behind 3-0 in the opening set as Collins took advantage of the No 2 seed’s 52% first-serve percentage to pound away at second-serve returns.

The Belarusian won just 33% behind her second serve, but found a way to claw her way back on serve.

Serving at 4-5 down, Sabalenka was broken again, and Collins took the intense 45-minute opening set, striking 13 winners to 10 unforced errors, while holding the World No 2 to just 9 winners and 9 miscues.

Steadying her game through the early stages of the second, Sabalenka saved 2 break points at 3-4, and held on with back-to-back stunners, and then, serving at deuce, she struck a pitch-perfect lob to earn game point, and converted with a searing forehand winner before breaking in the next game to take the match into a decider.

Sabalenka continued her surge to break Collins in the opening game of the third, and consolidated with her 4th ace of the night to lead 2-0, and although the American finally stopped the Belarusian’s run of 6 consecutive games by breaking to close the gap to 3-1, the No 2 seed cruised through her remaining service games to snuff out any chance of a come-back.

She broke Collins for the 6th and final time to seal the win after 2 hours and 24 minutes, finishing with 39 winners to just 20 unforced errors, while Collins answered with 30 winners to 27 miscues.

Collins generated more break points, 11 in total, but Sabalenka proved more efficient when it mattered, converting 6 of her 9.

World No 3 Coco Gauff was undone by 13 double-faults and lost to Madison Keys after leading by a break in the decider at La Caja Magica on Monday afternoon

© Julian Finney/Getty Images

Earlier in the day, Coco Gauff, the World No 3, had a break lead in the third set against her fellow American Madison Keys, but 13 double-faults did her in, and she went down, 7-6(4) 4-6 6-4.

Keys, the 18th seed, moves on to meet Ons Jabeur, the 8th seed from Tunisia, who had an easier day than of late, winning 6-0 6-4, over Jelena Ostapenko, the 9th seeded Latvian, in 67 minutes.

Elena Rybakina, the World No 4 representing Kazakhstan, won her 15th straight match on clay with a routing of Czech teenager, Sara Bejlek, 6-1 6-3, and moves into the Madrid quarter-finals for the first time.

Bejlek, an 18-year-old left-hander, had a bit of a handle on Rybakina’s overwhelming serve at the start, and she had chances to break twice in a row, but the Kazakh righted the ship with her power game, and reeled off 5 straight games to take the one-set lead.

Helped along by sturdy returns, Rybakina served for the match at 5-3 in the second, but saw her first 2 match points slip away, and Bejlek found key winners to garner 5 break points in that game.

Rybakina, though, had her serve firing when it mattered most, and she erased all of those chances before forcing another long return to create her 3rd match point, and despite outrageous Bejlek defence to keep that point alive, it ultimately proved successful for the winner after an hour and 16 minutes of play.

The 2022 Wimbledon champion, who collected her tour-leading 29th match-win of the year by toppling Bejlek, is also this year’s tour leader in titles, with 3, 5 final appearances, and 214 total aces.

“[Bejlek] was swinging, and she was trying to play aggressive,” Rybakina said. “I think she moved really well on the court. She reads the game and she was using the pace of the ball, and she’s lefty. It’s always tough to play against a lefty.

“I think she has good potential. She will for sure play well in the next tournaments, when she gets more experience to play this kind of event.”

Rybakina remains undefeated this month, having taken the title just over a week ago at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

“In Stuttgart, I also got tough opponents for the first few rounds, but managed there to win, and it gave me confidence to come here and finish these matches in two [sets],” Rybakina said, after her 3rd consecutive straight-sets win. “I’m really pleased with [my] game… Let’s see how far I can go here.”

World No 4 Elena Rybakina made short work of Sara Bejlek and will meet fellow Kazakh Yulia Putintseva in the quarter-finals

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Rybakina will now face her countrywoman Yulia Putintseva in the quarters, after Putintseva battled to upset Daria Kasatkina, the Russian 10th seed, 3-6 6-2 6-2, on Monday.

It took Putintseva an hour and 53 minutes to dispatch Kasatkina.

“I [have] a lot of matches right now behind my back, so it’s helping a lot, and that’s why in an important moment, I’m not rushing, I know what I’m doing,” Putintseva said after her latest victory.

A former Top 30 player, Putintseva started March ranked No 80, and just 2 months later, she is projected to make a Top 40 return.

No Kazakh woman had ever made the Madrid quarter-finals until now, and, suddenly, Kazakhstan is guaranteed a Mutua Madrid Open semi-finalist in 2024.

Putintseva holds the edge over Rybakina in their head-to-head so far, having beaten her in both of their previous meetings, on the clay of Rome in 2020, and on hard court at 2021 Indian Wells.



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