Aryna Sabalenka challenges Iga Swiatek: "I'm ready to beat her"

The Belarusian explained her improvements after gaining access to the Roland Garros 2nd round

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Aryna Sabalenka challenges Iga Swiatek: "I'm ready to beat her"
© Dan Istitene / Staff Getty Images Sport

On the eve of the Parisian Major she had said that she wan't the favorite but that she believed she could win, and the performance she showed in the first round of the Roland Garros against Erika Andreeva proved Aryna Sabalenka has right. The Belarusian dominated the match against the older of the Andreeva sisters and sent a very clear message to Iga Swiatek: I'm also there to win the French Open. Aryna eliminated the Russian tennis player with a score of 6-1 6-2.

Erika Andreeva and Aryna Sabalenka
Erika Andreeva and Aryna Sabalenka© Dan Istitene / Staff Getty Images Sport

In the post-match press conference, the Belarusian analyzed the keys to her success, also talking about her improvements from a mental point of view and her rivalry with Iga Swiatek.

"I have improved a lot of things since the last time in Paris. I think my serve has improved a lot, as well as my drop shots and my slices. Mentally I am stronger than last year. Against Andreeva it was a great match and a great start for me. I was focused on myself throughout the match and this allowed me to play excellent tennis. It was very humid, the ball was heavy and everything was slower. They were difficult conditions, but, as I said before, I was focused on myself and this allowed me to be consistent today. In these conditions, if you hit harder you make more unforced errors and I didn't want that.
I mentally prepared myself knowing that the points would be longer and that I would need more shots to win them,"
she explained.

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Dan Istitene / Staff Getty Images Sport

Sabalenka then revealed how she manages the pressure: "Everything comes with experience. The first time I came here it was very intense because it's a Grand Slam, but as the years go by you realize it's just another tournament and you have to have fun and be positive. There is already enough tension on the court and if you take it outside the tension becomes excessive. For me the best way to unplug is to have fun and have fun, that's how I am. You may like it more or less, but that's how I am."

Aryna also talked about the rivalry with Swiatek, which is destined to continue for a long time on the WTA Tour.

"If we manage to play here, I think we will be at 50%. It's a difficult challenge, but I like it. I'm ready to win, but there's still a long way to go before that happens, now I'm focused on every match. If we get there, I'll do my best. I know that if I fight every point and find solutions in my game I will be ready to win this tournament, but I want to take it one step at a time," she told.

Previously, at the press conference after the defeat in Rome against the Pole and on the eve of the French Open, Sabalenka had analyzed her chances of victory in Paris.

"I'm super excited, I love Paris and I love Roland Garros. Last year I did well and I'm excited. Even though I lost these two finals, I never focus on the past. It doesn't matter how many times I lose to a player, I know however that I will be ready to fight thinking of myself. I'm going to Paris with the belief that I can do well. Maybe I'm not the favorite, but at the same time I believe I can win. I hope to reach the final and win against anyone, whether we are talking about Iga or another tennis player. Today (the defeat in Rome - ed.) was not the final I really expected. I didn't play to the best of my ability. In any case, thoughts remain positive after these two weeks.

I'm proud to have managed to fight until the final. Even though it didn't go the way I wanted, I'm still happy with the result achieved in Rome. I didn't feel comfortable in the first set and I just tried to stay aggressive. If I had taken advantage of my opportunities in the second set, the match could have found another epilogue. I'll try to do better next time. When you have some problems and try to recover during the tournament, the injury stays in your mind. But I wouldn't say I lost today because of my back. I think I did pretty well here in Rome considering a lot has happened," she analyzed.

Aryna Sabalenka Iga Swiatek Roland Garros