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Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka - Roland Garros 2022

Iga Swiatek says she will not ‘contribute to hatred’ of Aryna Sabalenka


Iga Swiatek says any narrative that Aryna Sabalenka is ‘the bad one’ in the rivalry should stop immediately.

Swiatek and Sabalenka have emerged as the two top players on the WTA Tour and have both won Grand Slams and spent time at world number one this season.

The rivalry they are building is becoming one of the best in recent memory in women’s tennis, and it is often fed by a perception among fans that Swiatek is ‘good’ and Sabalenka ‘bad.’

Much of that has been blown up from the conflict in the Ukraine, the invasion of which by Russia is supported by Belarus – the nation of Sabalenka’s birth.

That conflict has had an impact on Poland too due to sharing a border with Ukraine, meaning many have been trying to place a geo-political angle on their on-court rivalry.

However, Swiatek has asked for that to end, saying that while they may not get on especially well, she wants no part in ‘contributing to hatred’ of anyone.

“I see that Poles don’t really like her,” Swiatek told Rzeczpospolita of Sabalenka. “We simply have two completely different personalities colliding.

“You can see the contrast. I wouldn’t say I’m a good character and she’s a bad one, because that puts her in a negative light.

“We are just different. I don’t want to be one of those people who judges. I know what life is like on the Internet and I don’t want to contribute to hatred towards anyone.

“First of all, we have great respect for each other and are kind to each other.”

Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka head-to-head

The budding rivalry between Swiatek and Sabalenka is certainly building nicely, and it doesn’t look like ending any time soon either.

Both players have had a stunning couple of years on the WTA Tour and appear to be at the peak of their powers. One look at the world rankings will show them nearly 2500 points ahead of number three Coco Gauff, highlighting their dominance of the women’s game right now.

Of the two players, though, Swiatek has definitely had the best of the head-to-head.

They have played each other nine times so far with the Pole winning six of them. Three of those matches have been in finals, with Swiatek winning two. She also won their last meeting as well, which was in the recent WTA Finals semis, and the only Grand Slam clash between them (US Open 2022 semi-final). Swiatek is also leading the rivalry in titles (17-13) and weeks at world number one (78-8).

Tournament Round Winner Score
2021 WTA Finals Round 1 Sabalenka 2-6, 6-2, 7-5
2022 Doha Quarterfinals Swiatek 6-2, 6-3
2022 Stuttgart Final Swiatek 6-2, 6-2
2022 Rome Semi-final Swiatek 6-2, 6-1
2022 US Open Semi-final Swiatek 3-6, 6-1, 6-4
2022 WTA Finals Semi-final Sabalenka 6-2, 2-6, 6-1
2023 Stuttgart Final Swiatek 6-3, 6-4
2023 Madrid Final Sabalenka 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
2023 WTA Finals Semi-final Swiatek 6-3, 6-2

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Michael Graham, Tennishead.net Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of Tennishead.net for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.