Ex-Slam champion details why this might be Iga Swiatek's most challenging French Open



by DZEVAD MESIC

Ex-Slam champion details why this might be Iga Swiatek's most challenging French Open

Alicia Molik thinks this might be the most challenging French Open campaign for Iga Swiatek. Swiatek, who won the French Open in 2020 and 2022, is returning to Roland Garros as the defending champion for the second time. So far in 2023, Swiatek has been showing some signs of vulnerability and this year she is arriving in Paris with two defeats on clay - the Pole was beaten by Aryna Sabalenka in the Madrid final and she retired injured during the third set of her Rome quarterfinal against Elena Rybakina.

At the Australian Open, Swiatek was ousted by Rybakina in the round-of-16 and later admitted that the enormous pressure and expectations got to her. "One other threat to Swiatek is herself. She's really mentally tough; I haven't seen anything bubble up to the surface.

But might she just put that extra bit of pressure on herself, having won the last two out of three? Everyone else will be expecting it. It's just a lot different (in 2023) than the last couple, I feel, now. Swiatek hasn't won one of those big lead-in events, so in the back of her mind, does she question her level right now, unlike other years?” Molik said on The AO Show, via the Australian Open website.

Molik picks Rybakina ahead of Swiatek for the French Open title

When asked to pick the French Open champion, Molik picked Rybakina. Also, Molik was asked whether this year's French Open men's tournament was more open with the Rafael Nadal absence.

"It is. There's probably five or six guys who can win it, I reckon. I think Novak's still firmly a favourite. You've gotta put in Medvedev, Sinner, Rune, Alcaraz, and Ruud. I think it was pretty perfect timing that Alcaraz had that bad loss (to Fabian Marozsan in Rome), because he was winning, winning, winning, and it would have been a re-focus point.

It's no indication of his form; he played a bad match, it's no big deal. He's been playing so well for such a long time. So I feel like it would have narrowed his focus for this period of time before the French," Molik explained. For the men's event, Molik picked Alcaraz to win it all.

Iga Swiatek French Open