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Aryna Sabalenka vs Maria Sakkari Madrid 2023 Preview and Prediction

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Aryna Sabalenka looks set for another crack at Iga Swiatek in a final with the pair both favoured to win their semi finals at the Madrid Open. The Belarussian has a slightly tough task on paper, facing Maria Sakkari for the ninth time in her career. Sabalenka leads the head to head 5-3 although the pair have yet to meet on a surface other than hard courts.

Sakkari made her eighth career WTA 1000 semi final thanks to a three set win over Irina Camelia Begu. She will have wanted to do a bit better than a 6-7 6-4 6-2 win against her opponent, even with the Romanian having one of best career tournaments here. She delivered at the key moments in the decider, saving break points early before converting her own and never looking back from there. “The gam eplan was very different from any other that I faced the last few years on the tour. It’s not easy to face those moonballs because you want to hit the ball, but you cannot because the altitude does not help you. I’m glad it was a mental win today because tennis-wise it wasn’t as good as yesterday. I’ll give myself a chance to play better tennis in a couple of days.” she said

Sabalenka managed to advance even with one of her worst performances for a while, beating Mayar Sherif 2-6 6-2 6-1. A bad serving day did not help the No.2 with 7 double faults to 2 aces, a ratio more suited for previous year’s struggles than her 2023 improved version. She struggled early with the high bounce but once she got going, she took charge with 10 straight games from 2-2 in the second set.

Sakkari’s struggles in big matches have been a constant theme of her career with the Greek going a disappointing 7-21 in career semi finals. She has the power to hang with her opponent but there will be questions mentally especially if she does start slowly in this one. Sabalenka is still playing excellent tennis and while there will be worries on traditional clay tournaments, Madrid still suits her aggressive style as long as she doesn’t have an erratic match including on serve.

Prediction – Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets

Aaron Higgs
Aaron Higgs
Experienced tennis writer with a focus on event previews and results.

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