Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek - Roland Garros 2023

Aryna Sabalenka reveals that Iga Swiatek’s Roland Garros success ‘motivates’ her

Aryna Sabalenka has spoken about her rivalry with Iga Swiatek, revealing that she is motivated by the world No.1’s success at Roland Garros.

Sabalenka is the second seed heading into the Paris major, coming off back-to-back final defeats to Swiatek in Madrid and Rome.

If the Belarusian is to play Swiatek in Paris she will need to reach the final for the first time in her career, but Sabalenka is trying not to ‘obsess’ over beating the three-time Roland Garros champion.

“If I have one thing clear, it is that I cannot obsess over beating Iga, but rather I must focus on myself and everything I must do to be a better tennis player,” said Sabalenka. “If I manage to do that, I know that I will have opportunities to provide myself against her.

“Here, I know she has achieved impressive things in this tournament, but I love difficult challenges. It motivates me especially and gives me great energy to fight for goals as complicated as beating Iga in this event.”

Despite Swiatek and Sabalenka dominating the WTA clay court season, the latter was keen to point out other rivals including US Open champion Coco Gauff and world No.4 Elena Rybakina.

“The duel we [Sabalenka and Swiatek] are creating is fantastic, but we are not alone since Coco and Elena also fight for the maximum goals,” explained Sabalenka. “Rivalries like this help me to be better every day and give me extra motivation. I hope we continue to find each other in the last rounds of big tournaments.”

Sabalenka will begin her 2024 Roland Garros campaign against Erika Andreeva on Tuesday, while Swiatek starts her title defence against French qualifier Leolia Jeanjean on Monday.

Inside the baseline…

While the men’s Roland Garros draw feels completely open, the women’s draw feels much more straightforward with many expecting another final between Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka. However, this means that Sabalenka would need to do something that she has never done before and reach the Roland Garros final, with some tricky names in her half including Elena Rybakina, Qinwen Zheng, Daria Kasatkina, Madison Keys and Elina Svitolina.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.