June 20, 2024
Aryna Sabalenka

The world No.2 faced Roland-Garros defending champion Iga Swiatek in the Madrid and Rome finals.
It’s a rivalry that has the tennis world talking. Evert-Navratilova, Graf-Hingis, Serena-Venus are familiar names in the history books. What about the eventual legacy of Aryna Sabalenka versus Iga Swiatek?

As the top two players in the women’s rankings they are constantly pushing for the major prizes and it will be no different in Paris.

“I think that’s amazing the rivalry we are having with Iga, and I would mention Elena [Rybakina] as well, and there are so many girls doing so well, like Coco [Gauff],” Sabalenka said.

“It’s not like only two of us. She definitely motivates me a lot to get better, and I think I improve so many things just because of her. She kind of like pointed out the things I wasn’t good at, and motivated me to get better at.

“It’s tough to talk about having this rivalry like those legends had in the moment. Probably later, after my career, I will look back and think, ‘Oh, wow, we had something similar that they had.’ I think it’s just amazing what we are doing, and I really hope we can keep doing the same or even better, meaning meeting in the last stages of the tournament.

“But I’m really grateful that I was able to achieve that much and I’m able to be one of those greatest athletes and be at the top. So that’s something I’m really excited about.”

Last summer, Sabalenka relinquished match point to succumb to Karolina Muchova in a thrilling three-hour, 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-5 semi-final loss.

Since then the world No.2 has defended her Australian Open crown and gone from strength to strength on the clay.
Aryna Sabalenka
Most notably, the 26-year-old reached the finals in Madrid and Rome in May, only to be denied by Swiatek. In the process, the Pole extended her lead in their rivalry head-to-head to 8-3.

“I’m super happy to be back,” Sabalenka said. “I love playing here, and I had a couple of good results in Madrid and Rome. Feel quite confident going to Roland-Garros. I’m just super excited, as always, to start playing here.

“I’m focusing on myself, not own goals, but on things I have to improve and get better at so I have a chance against Iga on the clay court and especially here at Roland-Garros.

“She’s achieved incredible results here. I take it as a challenge, and I like to accept tough challenges. That’s what actually motivates me and brings me more energy to keep going, to keep fighting for what I think I can achieve.”
Aryna Sabalenka
When it was her turn to speak to the media on Friday, Swiatek repaid the compliment, describing playing Sabalenka as “always a challenge” and adding that “off the court, she’s one of those people who makes the locker room nice.”

Sabalenka will open her RG2024 account against teenager Erika Andreeva, who is chasing a maiden major main draw victory.

“I’ve never played her. I played her sister [Mirra Andreeva] a lot of times. I’m going to watch her matches just to get to know her. Obviously, they both are very young, and playing some great tennis. I’m looking forward to facing her for the first time.”

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