(Madrid) Aryna Sabalenka wants her revenge: the world No. 2 will challenge the No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the final of the WTA 1000 tournament in Madrid on Saturday, two weeks after her defeat on clay in Stuttgart (Germany).

Sabalenka, crowned for the first time in Grand Slam at the Australian Open in January, pocketed her ticket for the Madrid final on Thursday afternoon, at the expense of the Greek Maria Sakkari (9th), dominated 6-4, 6 -1.

Swiatek imitated her shortly before half past midnight, leaving Russian Veronika Kudermetova (13th) no chance, muzzled 6-1, 6-1 in just 80 minutes.

“I really want to get that rematch,” hopes Sabalenka. “It would be really great to be able to beat a player like Iga on clay. »

Swiatek had won 6-3, 6-4 over the German ocher in April.

“In Stuttgart, I rushed, pissed, on the short balls, I tried too hard for the winner. This time I would play with more patience and wait for the right ball to finish the point,” imagines Sabalenka.

“It’s always a tough fight against Iga, I’m ready for it,” she promises.

Just over three weeks before Roland-Garros (May 28-June 11), Sabalenka is in any case confirming her very good form in 2023: the Belarusian, who celebrates her 25th birthday on Friday, has already reached her fifth final of the season ( for two titles) in seven tournaments played.

Already “before the Australian Open, I had become a little calmer on the court, maybe it’s age… But after that, everything changed. I feel like someone different, I see tennis differently, I have so much confidence in myself right now. The Australian Open really changed me,” she said.

For now, Swiatek, crowned twice at Roland-Garros (2020 and 2022), is undefeated on clay in 2023, with nine victories in as many matches. This will be his fourth final of the year (titles in Doha and Stuttgart) in six tournaments played.

Also in love with the surface and recent finalist in Barcelona, ​​the world No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas was surprised in the quarter-finals by the German Jan-Lennard Struff, 65th in the world and lucky loser, 7-6 (7/5 ), 5-7, 6-3 after two and a half hours of hard fighting.

Ironically, for a place in the final, Struff will face Aslan Karatsev… for the second time in the Madrid tournament: it was precisely the Russian who had beaten him in qualifying and initially prevented him from entering the main draw a while ago. ten days. The German was finally drafted after a late withdrawal.

“He beat me pretty easily in qualifying I must say (6-4, 6-2), admits Struff. I hope I will be able to do better. »

Karatsev put an end 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 to the fine run of Zhizhen Zhang (99th), who became the first Chinese player in the quarter-finals of the Masters 1000, to find a place in the last four.

For both Struff (33) and Karatsev (29), a surprise Australian Open 2021 semi-finalist but falling outside the top 100 (121st), this will be their first-ever Masters semi-final 1000.

Being invited to the last four guarantees the first to climb to the gates of the top 30 on Monday, very close to its best ranking (29th in August 2020), and the second, to return to the edge of the top 50.

Both men’s semifinals are scheduled for Friday (starting at 10 a.m. EST). The first will oppose the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, world No. 2 and holder of the trophy, to the Croatian Borna Coric (20th).