World No.1 Iga Swiatek defeated Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets to win her second successive Stuttgart Open title. Swiatek rallied past the Australian Open champion 6-3, 6-4 to successfully defend her title, beginning her 2023 clay court season with a bang. Sunday’s summit clash was a repeat of last year’s final and both the top two players in the rankings battled for 1 hour and 50 minutes before the Pole star claimed her 13th career singles title on the indoor clay. Swiatek registered her 20th match-win of the year.
Swiatek became the first player to win back-to-back titles in Stuttgart since Angelique Kerber in 2015 and 2016. On the other hand, Sabalenka lost the championship match in Stuttgart for the third year in a row. This is a third career title defense for Swiatek, having previously done so at 2022 Rome and Doha this year. Swiatek dominated from the start to win her second singles title of the year, leveling with Sabalenka and Belinda Bencic for the most titles won so far this season. A first tournament triumph after returning from injury will give the 21-year-old Polish player great confidence and a boost ahead of her French Open title defense in May.
Both players started and continued to play on a positive note. The U.S. Open champion broke serve late in the first set, taking advantage of an uncharacteristic miss from her opponent. The Pole capitalized on the opportunities and slowly managed to earn a breakpoint, taking a 5-3 lead in the first set. She then easily held her serve to clinch the first set on her second set point.
In the second set, the no.1 seed Swiatek once again broke Sabalenka in the opening game as she took a 2-0 lead. The 24-year-old Belarusian made a number of unforced errors due to which a notable frustration began to creep into her game. The Pole converted her first match point with a smooth backhand to clinch another impressive victory.
Swiatek now leads 5-2 in the head-to-head record against Sabalenka. It was the first time a world no.1 had faced world no.2 on clay in almost a decade, previously Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova in the 2013 French Open final.
I want to thank my team because it has been such an intense time. I am so happy we are making the right decisions, Swiatek said in the on-court interview. It is a pretty exciting time. I will be coming back because I love this tournament, she concluded.