Iga Swiatek: World No. 1 has a target on her back, Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka is her closest rival | tennis news

Iga Swiatek: World No. 1 has a target on her back, Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka is her closest rival | tennis news

#Iga #Swiatek #World #target #Australian #Open #champion #Aryna #Sabalenka #closest #rival #tennis #news Welcome to InNewCL, here is the new story we have for you today:

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Iga Swiatek is head and shoulders above the rest in the WTA rankings, but the three-time Grand Slam champion now has a “target on her back” in Aryna Sabalenka, ready to challenge the world no.

Swiatek clearly stood out from the crowd last year after Ashleigh Barty’s retirement, claiming her second and third Grand Slam titles at Roland Garros and the US Open.

Winning her first Major on hard courts in New York was a big moment for Swiatek, whose best surface by far is clay.

She will be the clear favorite to clinch three titles in four years at the 2023 French Open.

Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka poses with the trophy after winning the women's singles final against Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan on day thirteen of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 28, 2023.  --- RESTRICTED IMAGE TO EDITORIAL USE ONLY - NO COMMERCIAL USE ONLY - (Photo by Martin KEEP / AFP) / - RESTRICTED IMAGE TO EDITORIAL USE ONLY - NO COMMERCIAL USE ONLY - (Photo by MARTIN KEEP/AFP via Getty Images)

Image: Sabalenka started 2023 perfectly, culminating in winning the Australian Open

Belarusian star Aryna Sabalenka has been working with biomechanics and performance coaches to make progress and it seems to have paid off as she started 2023 with a perfect 11-0 record and two titles: Adelaide and the Australian Open.

Former Olympic singles champion Monica Puig has been impressed by how far Sabalenka has come after suffering some heartbreaking Grand Slam semi-final results in recent years.

Nobody knows your own problems better than you do and that was a really good self analysis, also a very mature answer and thing for her. Monica Puig on Aryna Sabalenka

Former Puerto Rican star Puig told InNewCL Sports: “Sabalenka has made it clear that she did her homework during the off-season.

“There was a question mark ahead of the Australian Open: who would be the person to pick up momentum in the off-season?

“She has worked tirelessly on her fitness and tennis. She had that extra time to see what was missing in her game and now Sabalenka has served so much better, which was a crutch in her game.

“She has spoken a lot about her mental attitude and how she worked with a psychologist but then stopped working with that psychologist because at the end of the day the only person who could heal her is herself.

“Nobody knows their own problems better than themselves and that was a really good self-analysis, also a very mature answer and a very mature thing for her.

“A lot of people benefit from having a mental coach. Swiatek benefits from having a mental coach on their team, but maybe it just didn’t work out for Sabalenka.”

Can Sabalenka overtake Swiatek as world No. 1?

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus reacts after winning a point against Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday January 28, 2023.  (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Image: Sabalenka is a former doubles No. 1 but she is now targeting Swiatek at the top of the singles rankings

Sabalenka has risen to world No. 2 after recovering from her serving problems in 2022, but she still lies over 4000 points behind Swiatek in the WTA rankings.

She kept her cool as she defeated reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in Melbourne for her maiden Grand Slam title, cementing her place as one of the brightest stars in the game.

Puig, who messed up the chances of winning a gold medal at the Rio Olympics, believes the 24-year-old has the tools to eventually overtake Swiatek and become the best in the world.

“She hits the ball incredibly well and is athletic for a tall player, she moves well. She’s also very strong, but the only thing standing in her way is herself. Her mental ability to get through important moments,” said Puig.

“We saw it in two semifinals at the US Open. We’ve seen her reach those stadiums but she never really managed to get past it and the Australian Open was a perfect sign that she’s heading into the right direction.

“She’s on the way there, she’s in control and winning the first Grand Slam title will take the pressure off her back because people have been talking about Sabalenka for a while.

“She has been at the top for many years. She was very consistent so it was only a matter of time. Winning the title in Adelaide was the perfect start to their 2023 season and winning the Australian Open title only confirms that.”

Winning will not be so easy for Iga in 2023

Coco Gauff reacts during a women's singles match at the 2022 US Open on Sunday September 4, 2022 in Flushing, NY.  (Darren Carroll/USTA via AP)

Image: Coco Gauff reached her first Grand Slam final at the French Open last year, where she was beaten by Swiatek

Sabalenka, Tunisian pioneer Ons Jabeur, rising Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff, and Rybakina are expected to battle with Polish star Swiatek for the prestigious titles, starting with the Indian Wells and Miami Open ‘Sunshine Double’ in March.

“I think the women’s field has a lot of players who are promising and showing a lot of potential. I feel like a lot of people were stunned by Iga last year and how much she’s improved,” admitted Puig retired from professional tennis at the age of 28, citing her series of injuries and subsequent surgeries as the reason for her decision.

“I thought Iga was very, very tough mentally. Physically, she was much quicker, much quicker in her reactions on the court and taking time from a lot of players, which I think is why she won so many sets, um love .

“She never gave players time to get into the game and not many players knew what to do against Iga.

“This year people are more prepared, they’ve studied them and will be a little bit more prepared to go to court against them.”

Puig continued: “Not only Sabalenka but many players will try to challenge Iga this year because what she did last year was historic.

“Nobody will ever be able to take it from her but doing what she did last year puts an even bigger goal on her back because she’s the one everyone wants to beat knowing her record and having so many games without survived even losing.

“To beat them you have to learn, you have to improve, you have to communicate with your team. What do I have to do to reach this point?”

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