Andy Roddick fires stern warning to Iga Swiatek's competition at start of clay season

Roddick gives his take on Swiatek's clay chances and the clay season favorites.

by Dzevad Mesic
Andy Roddick fires stern warning to Iga Swiatek's competition at start of clay season
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Mason

2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick says Iga Swiatek enters the clay season as the clear favorite and believes that it will require a massive effort from someone to "just enter the conversation" with the Pole on the slowest tennis surface. 

Over the last year two years, Swiatek has been the best player in the game and her dominance is usually at its peak during the clay season when the time comes for her favorite surface. 

During a breakthrough 2022 season, Swiatek didn't lose a single match during the clay season as she won the French Open, Rome Open and Stuttgart - she didn't win the Madrid Open because she didn't play there. Last year, Swiatek wasn't as dominant on clay as in 2023 but still won the French Open and Stuttgart, while she ended as runner-up to Aryna Sabalenka in the Madrid Open final and retired injured in the Rome quarterfinal versus Elena Rybakina.

Former world No. 1 Roddick mentions Sabalenka and Rybakina as two players who could be a legit threat to Swiatek on clay but highlights it will be easier said than done. 

“I was impressed with Rybakina’s performance in Miami. She’s usually one of those players that’s form-dependent: when she’s hot and playing well she wins tournaments, and when she’s not she loses early,” Roddick told Betway.

“But, having pulled out of Indian Wells with sickness and apparently not played tennis for eight days in between the two events, this time she was significantly undercooked and still found a way to work her way through to the final without playing her best stuff.

“We have a million miles between now and the French Open and it’s going to be based on form going in, but Iga Swiatek is 1A and 1B as far as favourites go on this surface.

“Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka are both players that can bother her with pace and speed, but someone is going to have to put together a massive clay-court season to even enter the conversation with Iga on clay.”

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Two years in a row Swiatek starts the clay season in the best possible way

In 2022, Swiatek had the best possible debut on the clay courts of Stuttgart as she won a WTA 500 tournament there after destroying Sabalenka in the final 6-2 6-2. Last year, the Polish world No. 1 repeated as the Stuttgart champion after again ousting Sabalenka in the final 6-3 6-4. 

Next week, Swiatek will again be starting her clay season in Stuttgart for the third consecutive year. Heading into the tournament, the 22-year-old Pole is again the top favorite for the title and all chances are that she will prolong her eight-match winning streak in Stuttgart. 

Last year, Swiatek wasn't really high on confidence when she arrived in Stuttgart because the first three months weren't easy for her. But in Stuttgart, she managed to find her game and set up herself for another big clay season.

"Well, there are a lot of emotions, honestly. I wanted to win really, really hard, but I knew that I can't really focus on that and just I have to keep doing my job as I did on previous matches," Swiatek said after winning Stuttgart last year.

"I'm pretty happy that I could kind of have good mentality and just focus on what I want to do tennis-wise and not, you know, what's gonna happen after the match."

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport - Christian Kaspar-Bartke

Swiatek shut up her doubters at the 2023 French Open 

After winning her second Stuttgart title last year, Swiatek suffered a surprise defeat to Sabalenka in the Madrid final and she also exited Rome in the quarterfinal after sustaining a thigh injury mid-match. That led to some doubting Swiatek's form and if she would be fit for the French Open. 

But when the French Open started, it didn't take long before Swiatek showed everyone that she came to play again, reaching the final without a dropped set. In the final, the Pole was made to work hard by Karolina Muchova but still figured a way to edge out the Czech 6-2 5-7 6-4 for her third French Open title.

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

"Oh, my God. Do you want to start that roller coaster (smiling)?" Swiatek said after defending her French Open title last year.

"No, I'm feeling all these different emotions right now. It's pretty surreal, everything. But the match was really intense, a lot of ups and downs. Stressful moments and coming back, you know. So I'm pretty happy that at the end I could be solid in those few last games and finish it."

Andy Roddick Iga Swiatek