World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty entered her fourth WTA singles final of the season, beating Paula Badosa 6-4, 6-3 at the Madrid Open on Thursday night.
Her opponent in the final will be either Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka who play their semi-final on Friday.
Barty could become only the third women’s player to claim the Madrid title while holding the world’s top ranking. Dinara Safina (2009) and Serena Williams (2013) are the only others to have achieved this.
“I’m very excited to be in the final,” Barty said later.
The result extends Barty’s red clay winning streak to 16. The Australian has already picked up titles at the Yarra Valley Classic, Miami and Stuttgart this season, and her win-loss record is 25-3.
“I’ve learnt a lot more about [clay], without a doubt,” she added.
“I promise you, I’m still counting down to the grass court season. It’s one of my favourite times of the year. I think the memories and the learnings now that we’re getting from the red clay has been really cool, to be able to challenge myself in different ways.”
Since leaving home for the first time after the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Barty has lost just once when she suffered a 6-4, 6-3 defeat at the hands of Badosa in the Charleston quarter-finals. Her revenge on Thursday was clinical as she found 30 winners to 23 unforced errors, sealing victory on her second match point with a sixth ace of the day.
“You have to learn from every game, every match you play against an opponent,” said Barty.
“I definitely learnt a lot from the match we played in Charleston. There was a small adjustment. I think just learning from some of her patterns, tendencies that came through and showed through in that match in Charleston.