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Sabalenka Is Stronger For Me Than Swiatek

Written by Richard Pagliaro | @Itenisi_Manje | Saturday, May 25, 2024

Reigning Roland Garros Iga Swiatek he is the best clay court champion in the world.

But when it comes to the toughest opponents, the world No. 1 is second to none Elena Rybakina.

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Top-seeded Swiatek holds an impressive 77-10 clay-court record in defense of her Roland Garros title, including a career-best 14-1 clay-court mark this season that spans back-to-back WTA 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Rome.

Swiatek’s only loss on dirt came to Rybakina in Stuttgart.

2022 Wimbledon champion Rybakina says world number 2 Aryna Sabalenka, not four-time major champion Swiatek, her fiercest rival on the WTA Tour.

“I’ll say Aryna [is my toughest opponent],” Rybakina told the media in Paris today. “We play a lot of tough games, and he is very aggressive. You have good energy.

“And with Iga I feel like I’m stronger just in the game, in my strength over Iga. With Aryna, it’s stronger.”

Head-to-head records support Rybakina’s standing.

In total, Rybakina won four of six meetings against Swiatek.

Two-time Australian Open champion Sabalenka is 6-3 against Rybakina, including a 1-6, 7-5, 7-6(5) win over her opponent in the Madrid semifinals earlier this month. Sabalenka battled Rybakina to win her first title at the 2023 Australian Open.

The 24-year-old Rybakina denied 11 of 13 break points in a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory to snap Stuttgart’s 10-match streak and reach her fifth Porsche Tennis final of the season Grand Prix. last month.

It was Rybakina’s fifth career victory over the reigning world No. 1 with four of those wins coming against rival Swiatek.

Now, Rybakina has beaten the Roland Garros champion twice in a row at her favorite venue.

Beating the world’s best at her best venues gives Rybakina confidence ahead of Roland Garros, where the best result is an appearance in the quarterfinals in 2021. Rybakina swept Serena Williams in the 2021 French Open round of 16.

“Yes, of course, it gives me a lot of confidence,” said his winning record against Swiatek. “Like I always say, I think I’m improving every year, every tournament.

“Yes, this victory against Iga gives you confidence.”

Fourth-ranked Rybakina went on to win Stuttgart to become the first woman to reach five finals in the first four months of the season since the former world No. 1. Victoria Azarenka in 2012.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty

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