Terrified Aryna Sabalenka almost DROPS Madrid Open trophy after ticker tape explosion during ceremony (VIDEO)
Aryna Sabalenka secured a surprise win over top seed Ashleigh Barty to seal the Madrid Open title before being handed a shock of her own as the Belarusian almost dropped the trophy when an explosion rang out at the award ceremony.
Seeded fifth on the clay courts of the Spanish capital, Sabalenka overcame the Australian world number one in three sets, 6-0 3-6 6-4, on Saturday.
The first set rout was the first time Barty had failed to win a game in a set for four years, while her run of 16 straight victories on clay also came to an end.
The Belarusian claimed a 10th career singles title and also gained revenge over her Australian rival, who came from behind to beat her in the final in Stuttgart two weeks ago.
After breaking into a beaming smile and short victory dance on sealing the win, the 23-year-old Sabalenka got an unwanted shock after being presented with the vase-like trophy on stage, almost dropping it as a confetti explosion rang out.
Clutching at her chest as the crowd gasped, Sabalenka and Barty both then broke into a laugh as fans applauded and ticker tape rained down over the court.
The win for Sabalenka – who is now tied at 4-4 in head-to-head meetings with Barty – will boost her confidence heading to the clay courts of Roland-Garros later this month.
The Belarusian has never gone past the fourth round at a Grand Slam but will tipped to improve on that at this year’s French Open as she rises to the world number four spot on Monday.
Barty, 25, will be among the favorites in Paris having claimed a maiden Grand Slam title there in 2019.