MADRID -- Amid the thunderous cheers from the Madrid crowd on Saturday, Iga Swiatek drew inspiration from her idol, Rafael Nadal. Reflecting on his rally from two sets down against Daniil Medvedev in the 2022 Australian Open final, Swiatek summoned similar determination.
"I remember exactly when he was playing Medvedev in Australia, and it clicked for him," Swiatek said. "He also struggled for a bit of time, he was tense, and I think stressed.
"That kind of gave me hope that maybe it will click, even after two hours."

While much of the discussion about Swiatek centers on her formidable straight-set victories, she has also demonstrated remarkable resilience in securing several challenging three-set wins.
Notably, her match-point saving win against Kaia Kanepi at the 2022 Australian Open and her gritty victory against Karolina Muchova in last year's Roland Garros final stand out. More recently, she staged a comeback from 4-1 down in the final set to defeat Danielle Collins at this year's Australian Open.

But Madrid was different. The 22-year-old Swiatek saved three championship points in the longest final of the year to defeat two-time champion Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(7).  
"Physically and tennis-wise, I wasn't surprised [I could maintain the high-level for three hours], but I was surprised that in the third set I felt the best mentally," Swiatek said after the 3-hour, 11-minute match. "Because, yeah, I actually felt like I needed to dig through for these two hours and it didn't really work. I was, like, 'Oh, my God, am I going to feel a little bit more loose soon?'"
As Swiatek said after the match, neither player deserved to lose. Sabalenka delivered what was arguably the finest performance of her career, maintaining a high level of play from start to finish. Yet, when the final point was played, it was Swiatek who had the winner’s trophy in hand.

"I think it depends on what I'm going to do with this match now," Swiatek said on the WTA Insider Podcast, "because I can let it go and rest and just forget about it, or I can really take a big lesson from it. 
"So it depends on what is going to happen in the next weeks in terms of how I analyze it. If I am going to take this hope that even if I am feeling stressed for two hours I can still win a match or I can still feel better, it will give me a lot for the rest of my career."

Here's more from two incredible weeks at the Caja Magica in Madrid:

Honor Roll

Aryna Sabalenka: A third Madrid Open title in four years was not in the cards for Sabalenka, but the World No.2 still exits Madrid with renewed momentum after a relative lull in her results since defending her Australian Open title.

"I'm super happy that here in Madrid I was able to bring it all together and to be able to get back to my level," Sabalenka said in post-match press. "I think it's, you know, it only can get better from now on."

Read more: 'I'm leaving with positive thoughts': Sabalenka proud of Madrid resilience

Sabalenka is less sanguine about getting another year older on Sunday: "I'm going to be in a bad mood. I am 26 tomorrow. It sucks."

Madison Keys: After struggling with shoulder issues on and off for a couple seasons, Keys had to rehab that joint fully this winter, delaying her season start until Indian Wells in March.

But Keys has quickly returned to top form, beating Top 10 players Coco Gauff and Ons Jabeur in Madrid on the way to her first semifinal of the year. 

"We have put lots of hours into the gym trying to just work on some of the things that were unstable, not strong enough, things like that," Keys said. "We have done a lot of work, so it's really great to see that all that work is paying off, and I'm ready to go for Rome."

Cristina Bucsa and Sara Sorribes Tormo: The No.8-seeded Spaniards thrilled their home crowds by winning the doubles title on Sunday. They are the first Spanish women to ever win the doubles title in Madrid.

Yulia Putintseva: The Kazakh has been incredible at the last three WTA 1000 events -- Indian Wells Round of 16, Miami quarterfinals, and now another quarterfinal in Madrid, with five Top 20 wins during that stretch.

The 29-year-old Putintseva, who peaked at No.27 in 2017, started March ranked No.80 but will see that ranking just about halved in Monday's update.

Mirra Andreeva: Last year's WTA Newcomer of the Year has been living up to that moniker in 2024. After reaching her first WTA 500 quarterfinal in Brisbane and her first WTA 250 quarterfinal in Rouen, Andreeva made her first WTA 1000 quarterfinal in Madrid on her 17th birthday.

Hot Shots

Three championship points saved by Iga Swiatek in the longest final of the year: shots can't get much hotter.

Watch This: Swiatek saves three championship points in Madrid final

Notable Numbers

30: Swiatek and Elena Rybakina leave Madrid as co-leaders in match-wins this year. They have each amassed 30 in 2024.


231: Aryna Sabalenka hit 231 winners this fortnight, which is the highest tally at a single tournament since Sabalenka herself hit 247 during her run to the 2023 Australian Open title.

200: By defeating Tatjana Maria in the Madrid second round, Victoria Azarenka became the first player to achieve 200 match-wins at WTA 1000 events since the tier began in 2009.

From the Camera Roll

The outstanding career of former World No.1 Garbiñe Muguruza, who retired from tennis earlier this month, was celebrated at the Mutua Madrid Open.


Next Up

From one clay-court WTA 1000 to another: The tour now heads east to Rome, Italy for the 81st edition of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

Everything you need to know about the 2024 Internazionali BNL d'Italia

Swiatek and Sabalenka will aim for another final showdown, while defending champion Rybakina will attempt to retain her crown from last year.