Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka entered the Madrid Open final after beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-2, 6-3, on Friday.

The Belarusian’s opponent in the final will be world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, who entered her fourth WTA singles final of the season, beating Paula Badosa 6-4, 6-3.

“I think my game has improved a lot on the clay court,” Sabalenka said after she rolled to a 9-1 win-loss record on the surface this season.

“For sure, it’s given me some confidence, but there’s still so many things to work on. I’m just really happy with my level here in Madrid,” Sabalenka told wtatennis.com.

Sabalenka needed just over an hour to defeat six-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Pavlyuchenkova, improving her overall 2021 win-loss record to 23-6.

The Belarusian continued her surge through the Madrid draw — Sabalenka hasn’t dropped a set, and has only ceded 18 games as she dispatched her opposition in the Spanish capital.

“I think from the side it looks like everything is going my way,” Sabalenka said.

“Some games I didn’t feel my serve. Some games something wasn’t working. It’s always part of the process. But I’m really happy that from the side, it looks like everything is going my way.”

Pavlyuchenkova had defeated Sabalenka in their only prior encounter, on the hardcourts of Toronto in 2019. But this time around, Sabalenka won 73 per cent of her second-service points and converted four of her five break points to end the run of the World No.41.

Sabalenka also fired 21 winners to just 11 unforced errors, continuing an event where she has had only positive differentials between those two metrics. Pavlyuchenkova, by contrast, had eight of each.

–IANS

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