It has been a match we have been anticipating when the draw was released, would we get to see the 2019 French Open champion, Iga Swiatek against 2018 champion Ash Barty who couldn’t defend her title last year due to travel restrictions battle in Madrid.
Ash was on a 11 match winning streak on European clay coming into Madrid and recently won singles and doubles in Stuttgart.
Iga, was looking at extending her winning streak to 10 on clay in her first clay event since winning Roland Garros and without dropping a set in her last 9 on the dirt.
It was a fascinating battle and a strong start from the teenager who raved to a 3-0 lead over the Aussie really putting the power behind her groundstrokes and hitting the ball so cleanly.
On three occasions in Stuttgart we saw Ash come from a set down and back from the brink but it was a quick turnaround from the world number one who levelled the set. Iga continued to lead on serve through the set and at 5-4 the pressure was on Ash to hold on but having levelled the set once again, broke the Pole and lead for the first time before sealing the set 7-5.
The run of domination at the end of the first set and into the second continued for Ash who won 6 of 7 games to lead 7-5 3-1 against the teenager. The pace that Ash generated through her forehand whether she had time or was running towards it was fantastic, a lot of talk was about the forehand of Swiatek but the consistency came from the Aussie’s forehand.
Iga did stay close but it just felt with Ash ahead it would need to take something special, Iga did see some small opportunities at 15-30 and I didn’t think the world number one was at her exceptional best but she gets the job done!
7-5 6-4, a very good performance from Ash who extends her winning run to 12 on European clay, ending the run of 9 wins and 18 consecutive sets of tennis won on the clay courts.
It was also a 34th top 20 ranked win since the beginning of 2019 for Ash (19 of them vs top 10) and she will look to extend that run on Wednesday against Petra Kvitova.