Elena Rybakina breaks down why her game is so uncomfortable for Iga Swiatek

Rybakina shares some secrets behind her success against Swiatek.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Elena Rybakina breaks down why her game is so uncomfortable for Iga Swiatek
© Getty Images Sport - Alex Grimm

Elena Rybakina believes her very fast and aggressive style of play makes it hard for Iga Swiatek to play her own game and dominate, which is probably a big reason why the Pole has struggled in her matches against the Kazakh so far. 

On Saturday, world No. 4 Rybakina clinched her fourth win against Swiatek after upsetting the world No. 1 6-3 4-6 6-3 in the Stuttgart semifinal. 

Last year, Rybakina played Swiatek for the first time since 2021 and very impressively won all of their three meetings from 2023. At the start of this year, Swiatek made some amends for the three losses to Rybakina in 2023 by beating the Kazakh in the Doha final. But in Stuttgart, Rybakina showed that what happened in Doha didn't turn their rivalry around.

2022 Wimbledon champion Rybakina now has four wins in six meetings versus four-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek.

"I think it's just style of the game. Iga, she moves really well and she likes to dominate in the rally. With me, it's difficult because I play fast, I play flatter, and also like to move the opponent," Rybakina explained.

"So it's kind of, I think, a matchup where we are both pushing each other, both trying to dominate in the point. So I think of course also my serve helps a lot. That's why some matches I win; some matches I lose. But it's always tough for her to play against me and for me to play against her (smiling)."

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

Rybakina on being the only player in 2024 to have wins over Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka

By beating Swiatek in Stuttgart, 24-year-old Rybakina became the first player this season to register wins over both the Polish world No. 1 and world No. Sabalenka. Earlier this year, Rybakina ousted Sabalenka in the Brisbane International to win it all in the very first week of the new season.

After having success against Swiatek and Sabalenka last year, Rybakina is again doing well against the two top-ranked players in the world.

"Well, I'm happy, of course, with all the tournaments I just played and all the finals. As I was saying last year, because I started really well the season, and now it's also successful, the season is very long, and you never know how you're gonna finish, but of course I'm happy with all the results I'm having this year," Rybakina said when asked about being the first player to have beaten both Swiatek and Sabalenka. 

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Alex Grimm
 

Rybakina on becoming the first player to beat Swiatek in Stuttgart

Swiatek, who debuted on the clay courts of Stuttgart two years ago, won four matches that year to have a triumphant debut at the tournament. Last year, Swiatek again won four matches and managed to make it back-to-back in Stuttgart. This year, Swiatek started with straight-set wins over Elise Mertens and Emma Raducanu but then Rybakina put an end to her perfect 10-0 record in Stuttgart. 

While Swiatek enjoyed massive success in Stuttgart in 2022 and 2023, Rybakina didn't as she picked up back-to-back round-of-16 exits in those two appearances. When taking everything into consideration, Swiatek was believed to be the favorite to beat Rybakina since the match was set to be played on clay and in Stuttgart. 

"Yeah, of course. For me last two times I was coming, it was not that successful, the tournament. I was playing Fed Cup, also traveling a lot. But this time I prepared much better," Rybakina said.

"Of course she likes the courts. For me, it's a bit difficult to move. It's really slippery and you need to be very strong.

"For now I'm happy that I managed to pull off these three matches, and even today this three-set battle I managed to win."

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Alex Grimm
 

In the first set, Rybakina found herself 0-2 down and facing two break points when she impressively won five games in a row to overturn the early deficit and go 5-2 up. In the eighth game, Rybakina missed out on four set points but sealed the first set in the following game after realizing her fifth set point.

In the second set, no breaks were seen until the 10th game - when Rybakina dropped her serve while serving to stay in the set.

Despite losing the second set, it was Rybakina who was controlling the match early in the third set as the Kazakh missed out on two break points in the first game and five more break points in the third game but finally got the first break of the third set in the fifth game. Up by a break, Rybakina then faced some break points but managed to save a break point in the sixth and eighth games before breaking Swiatek again in the ninth game to complete her three-set win.

Elena Rybakina Iga Swiatek
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