Elena Rybakina snubs Iga Swiatek, picks Aryna Sabalenka as the player she has the most trouble with

Elena Rybakina (L), Iga Swiatek (upper-right) and Aryna Sabalenka (down-right) [Source: Getty Images]
Elena Rybakina (L), Iga Swiatek (upper-right) and Aryna Sabalenka (down-right) [Source: Getty Images]

Elena Rybakina revealed that she finds Aryna Sabalenka to be a tougher opponent, choosing her over Iga Swiatek. Rybakina has faced Swiatek six times on the WTA Tour, winning four out of those six matches.

Rybakina, Swiatek, and Sabalenka are all having a good season thus far. The Kazakh has claimed three titles this year - the Brisbane International, Abu Dhabi Open, and the Stuttgart Open. Meanwhile, the World No.1 has secured four titles - the Qatar Open, BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Madrid Open, and the Italian Open. Sabalenka has managed to win one title, the Australian Open.

All three players are currently in Paris to compete at the French Open. Two-time defending champion at Roland Garros, Iga Swiatek, will kick off her campaign against French qualifier Leolia Jeanjean. Elena Rybakina, seeded fourth, will face Greet Minnen in the first round, while Aryna Sabalenka, seeded second, will take on Erika Andreeva in her opening match.

Speaking at the pre-tournament press conference, Rybakina admitted that she considers Sabalenka to be a much more difficult opponent due to her power and aggressiveness on the court.

The World No. 4 also mentioned that she finds playing against Swiatek easier because of her own strength and power.

"I would say Aryna [Sabalenka]. We have played many difficult matches, she is very aggressive and has good power. And with Iga [Swiatek] I feel that I have more control in the game because of my power over her, so with Aryna it's more difficult," Elena Rybakina said, as quoted by Punto de Break (translated from Spanish).

This year, Elena Rybakina has faced Iga Swiatek twice - in the final of the Qatar Open, which Swiatek won, and in the semifinals of the Stuttgart Open, which Rybakina won and then defeating Marta Kostyuk in the final to claim the title.

"A girl like Elena Rybakina can definitely beat Iga Swiatek" - Jessica Pegula names the Pole's biggest challengers at French Open 2024

2023 Australian Open - Day 7
2023 Australian Open - Day 7

During an interview with NBC Sports ahead of the 2024 French Open, Jessica Pegula discussed the potential threats and challenges that Iga Swiatek may encounter while trying to defend her title at Roland Garros.

Swiatek is aiming to make history by becoming only the third player, alongside Monica Seles and Justine Henin, to win three consecutive French Open titles. Pegula stated that Elena Rybakina could be a significant threat to Swiatek's title defense because of her power and a better head-to-head record against the World No. 1.

"I think [Elena] Rybakina can definitely, if she's healthy. I don't think she has ever lost to her, actually. I don't know if they've played much, though, on clay. But I think a girl like that can definitely beat her," Pegula told NBC Sports (at 35:33).

Pegula also mentioned Aryna Sabalenka as another player who could pose a challenge to Swiatek in Paris.

"I think Aryna [Sabalenka] and Elena [Rybakina] are probably the people that can beat her, like the challenge of playing her on clay. I think she's still kind of the favorite going into this tournament," she added (at 36:00).
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