World No 1 Ashleigh Barty earned her third WTA title this year by beating Aryna Sabalenka in the final of Stuttgart’s clay-court tournament on Sunday.
After winning in Miami and a pre-Australian Open event in Melbourne on hard court, Barty added the Stuttgart title, her first tournament on clay this season, as the 2019 French Open winner gears up for Roland Garros next month.
A day after her 25th birthday, the Australian rallied from losing the first set to claim a 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 win over Sabalenka, who needed a medical time-out after the second set for an adductor injury.
“Get healthy, get well - you’ll be back in no time,” Barty wished Sabalenka at the end of an “incredible week” for the Australian, who then played the doubles final with partner Jennifer Brady.
Despite playing the third set with her right leg strapped, Sabalenka even broke Barty at 3-1 in the decider, but ultimately failed to add Stuttgart to January’s triumph in Abu Dhabi.
The 22-year-old said she hopes to be fit for the clay-court tournament in Madrid, which starts Thursday.
“I gave it my all even with the injury, but she played really well,” said Sabalenka, who first felt the adductor tighten at the end of the opening set.
“I gave her the opportunity and she took it, she’s playing really well on clay, it suits her game.
“I hoped the medical time-out would help me. I am just happy that I was able to play on.”
Result from the WTA clay court tournament in Stuttgart on Sunday (x denotes seeding):
Final: Ashleigh Barty (AUS x1) bt Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x5) 3-6, 6-0, 6-3
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