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The Pick: Ashleigh Barty vs. Aryna Sabalenka, WTA Madrid Championship
The world No. 1 will look to defeat Aryna Sabalenka in the finals for a second straight tournament.
Published May 07, 2021
For a second straight tournament Ash Barty will face Aryna Sabalenka in the final. It’s the third time they’ve played in the last five weeks, with the world No. 1 will hoping to sweep the Belarusian in 2021 and extend her head-to-head record to 5-3. Sabalenka aims to capture her first clay court title, and avenge last week's loss in Stuttgart.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Aussie is a slight -125 favorite and projected to win by 1.5 total games. This seems like pretty solid odds on a player who hasn’t lost on red clay in nearly two years, and is in the midst of a nine-match winning streak. But before you blindly bet on Barty, remember that defeating an opponent in consecutive weeks—especially one as good as Sabalenka—is extremely difficult.
But Barty is a freak of nature, and if anyone can beat the huge-hitting Sabalenka three times in four tournaments it’s probably her. Barty’s forehand accuracy in recent weeks has been jaw-dropping.
The 5’5” Barty’s serve is arguably the best “inch for inch” shot on both the men’s and women’s tour. In addition to that weapon, she can beat her opponent in so many different ways. Here, she passes up the wide-open backhand corner in order to wrong-foot Sabalenka. Shots like this can be demoralizing for opponents.
Sabalenka’s power is her one advantage in this matchup, so look for her to use it both on the return…
And on her first shot following her serve. It’s imperative that Sabalenka maintain control of the rallies and keep the Aussie on defense as much as possible.
In the end your guess is as good as mine, but after watching Barty maneuver on clay this season it’s really hard to bet against her. In Miami, Sabalenka played astonishing tennis only to fall short 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3. Betting the over 21.5 game total seems like a safe bet, but we’ll be riding with the world No. 1 until she gives us a reason not to.
The Pick: Ashleigh Barty