Aryna Sabalenka identifies deciding factor in matches vs Iga Swiatek, Elena Rybakina

Sabalenka addresses her big rivalries with Swiatek and Sabalenka.

by Dzevad Mesic
Aryna Sabalenka identifies deciding factor in matches vs Iga Swiatek, Elena Rybakina
© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Aryna Sabalenka acknowledges surfaces also play a role in meetings between her, Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina but adds that in their matches it ultimately comes to how they do in the key moments of their matches. 

Due to the quality of their matches and success they have achieved over the last few years, Sabalenka, Swiatek and Rybakina have been called the WTA Big Three for a year now. On clay, Swiatek is by far considered the best player while Sabalenka and Rybakina are known as players who prefer faster surfaces. But whenever they play against each other, it is always a big fight and a great match. 

Last week, reigning Australian Open champion Sabalenka claimed a 1-6 7-5 7-6 (5) win over Rybakina before Swiatek handed the Belarusian a 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7) loss in the Madrid final. Although Swiatek entered the Madrid final as the favorite since it was played on clay, Sabalenka was inches away from beating the Pole as she had three championship points before the currentl world No. 1 sealed a narrow win.

Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek
Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Before Madrid, 2022 Wimbledon champion Rybakina upset Swiatek 6-3 4-6 6-3 in the Stuttgart semifinal. 

Last year, Sabalenka also got win on clay versus Swiatek when she beat the Pole in Madrid. While Sabalenka and Rybakina have both managed to beat Swiatek on clay, the Pole has also had wins over the Belarusian and Kazakh on hard. 

When it comes to grass, there has yet to be a WTA Big Three matchup there - which is a bit surprising. But considering that Swiatek has yet to fully figure out playing on grass, Sabalenka and Rybakina would likely have the small edge versus the Pole if they met on grass now. 

Sabalenka on what makes the real difference in matches versus Swiatek, Rybakina

Addressing how the Madrid final went and how usually her matches versus Swiatek and Rybakina go, Sabalenka pretty much suggested that winning those couple of key points usually determines who wins the match.

"Well, I mean, obviously Iga is much better on clay than me, for example. I would say Elena is better on grass. I'm maybe a little bit better on hard court," Sabalenka said.

"At the same time I cannot say that it's all about the surface. I mean, as the time shows, I can beat them on clay, on hard, on grass. It's not about the surface, I would say. It's about honestly in each match couple of key moments where, like, probably she played better.

"For example, last match with Iga, I wouldn't say on those important points I did something wrong, it's just I was doing the right thing, but she was doing it better little bit. It's just about little things.

"Yeah, it's not about the surface. It's a process. You learn from that little mistakes you made during the match, then you go and work on them, you try better next time. It's just little improvements, like little percentage better every day. Hope for the better result."

Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina
Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Sabalenka won't be facing Rybakina in Rome but she could meet Swiatek

When the Rome draw was released, both Sabalenka and Rybakina found themselves in the bottom part of the draw. But after Rybakina withdrew from her Rome opener with an illness, the chances of seeing a Rome semifinal between Sabalenka and the Kazakh came to an end. 

But there could still be a WTA Big Three meeting in Rome as Sabalenka and Swiatek could potentially meet in the final at Foro italico. If that happens, Sabalenka will get her wish from Madrid - after the Madrid final, the 26-year-old Belarusian told Swiatek she would like to meet her in many more finals.

“I really want to see many more finals against her (Iga). I wanna see more wins than losses But I really hope that we’ll be able to increase the level every year. I’m really happy to be one of these Big 3 as you call us. It’s really motivating me a lot to keep working," Sabalenka said.

Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek
Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Swiatek, who beat Sabalenka in seven of their 10 meetings and also won three of their four meetings that came in finals, returned the favor to the Belarusian and also offered some kind words.

“It is always a challenge playing against you Aryna, so thanks for motivating me and forcing me to be a better player, I want to thank my team. I’ve had pretty nice speeches before so I don’t know what else to say to make it feel special. But I think what you saw on court was pretty special anyway," Swiatek told Sabalenka in Madrid.

Aryna Sabalenka Iga Swiatek Elena Rybakina