Iga Swiatek's interesting response to why Elena Rybakina is is so tricky for her

Rybakina ended Swiatek's perfect Stuttgart record and improved to 4-2 against the Pole.

by Dzevad Mesic
Iga Swiatek's interesting response to why Elena Rybakina is is so tricky for her
© Getty Images Sport - Alex Grimm

Iga Swiatek admitted that Elena Rybakina was the better player in their Stuttgart quarterfinal but also didn't want to give too much focus on the fact that Rybakina is a very tricky opponent for her, stating that she, Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka are "probably the three best players in the world."

After beating Emma Raducanu to improve to a 10-0 lifetime in Stuttgart and come two wins away from winning the title, Swiatek exited the tournament in the semifinal after Rybakina handed her a 6-3 4-6 6-3 loss. Following the loss, Swiatek didn't sugarcoat anything, acknowledging that the fourth-seeded Kazakh deservedly ended on the winning side. 

"Well, she played better than me, obviously. It's hard right now for me to analyze what specifically was better. For sure she served better. I didn't serve well in the third set," Swiatek said.

"Yeah, so that's a shame, but at least I know what I can work on and be focused on that."

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport - Alex Grimm

Swiatek asked why Rybakina is such a tricky and difficult player for her 

Rybakina, 24, now owns a 4-2 head-to-head against Swiatek. Since losing to Swiatek in their first meeting in 2021, Rybakina went 3-3 in her meetings against the Polish world No. 1. This year, Swiatek ended her three-match losing streak against Rybakina by beating the Kazakh in the Doha final but now she has again ended on the losing side to the 2022 Wimbledon champion. 

Considering that clay is Swiatek's favorite surface and that she is a very dominant force in Stuttgart, that gives even more significance to Rybakina's win - who prefers faster surfaces. 

When asked what it was exactly that she was finding difficult about Rybakina's game, the Polish four-time Grand Slam champion didn't agree that the Kazakh had something specific in her game that is a winning formula against her. 

"Well, there is no, like, one specific thing. I just think, you know, honestly probably me, Aryna, and her are the best players on tour, honestly. She had struggles with some injury, but every time she's healthy she is playing well," Swiatek said.

"So there are, you know, specific aspects of her game that are, you know, hard, but, you know, I wouldn't say there is, like, one specific. She's a good player. That's all."

Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina
Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Alex Grimm

Swiatek was let down by her serve; what she said afterward

When the match started, Swiatek got off to a running start as she opened an early 2-0 lead and even had two consecutive break points to go up by a double break but didn't convert. Swatek then paid the price for failing to go up by a double break as Rybakina responded with back-to-back breaks to overturn the deficit and take a 5-2 lead. In the eighth game, Swiatek faced four set points on her serve - managed to save them - but Rybakina still won the first set after converting her fifth set point on her serve in the following game.

After facing break points in multiple games in the first set, Swiatek also faced some pressure early on in the second set but managed to avoid going down by a break after saving two consecutive break points in the first game. In the next several games, Swiatek's serve stabilized and she didn't face any break points but she also didn't realize three break points in the fourth game and one more in the sixth game. But in the 10th game - when Rybakina was serving to stay in the second set - Swiatek claimed a break to win the second set and force a decider. 

Just when it seemed that Swiatek found her rhythm on her serve, her woes returned at the start of the third set - she saved two break points in the first game and five more in the third game but dropped her serve in the fifth game. Down 3-5 and serving to stay in the match, the Pole again faced some break points - which at the same time were match points - and lost after Rybakina converted her second match point. 

When asked if feeling pressure from Rybakina impacted her serve or if she just wasn't feeling well, Swiatek said it was only the third set when she started to doubt herself on her serve.

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport - Alex Grimm

"Honestly, I don't think it was any of these cases. It was just, you know, this kind of day where I served worse. I'll try to be more consistent," Swiatek said.

"I wasn't feeling like a lot of pressure. Maybe a little bit in the third set, but still I think at the beginning the reason was kind of in me, not on the outside. Yeah, I doubted my serve a little bit in third set, and I'll try to not, like, have situations like that.

"But for sure it wasn't easy to see, you know, her winning her service games pretty easily and me, like, struggling basically on every game.

"I think at the end, you know, it also made a difference, but, you know, I was trying to get better. You know, maybe I just need more practicing or something."

Iga Swiatek Elena Rybakina