Aryna Sabalenka has warning for Iga Swiatek, Pole responds in great way

Sabalenka and Swiatek engaged in a playful chat following their Rome final.

by Dzevad Mesic
Aryna Sabalenka has warning for Iga Swiatek, Pole responds in great way
© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Aryna Sabalenka did her best to keep a positive spirit after losing another final to Iga Swiatek as the Belarusian warned the world No. 1 in a funny way that her revenge would come at the worst possible moment for the Pole - in the French Open final. 

After struggling with her game and form for three months, Sabalenka managed to find some momentum and rhythm in the last couple of weeks and reach back-to-back finals at the WTA 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Rome. But Sabalenka's Australian Open win remains her lone victory of the year and Swiatek is the one to blame after the Polish world No. 1 handed out losses to the Belarusian in the Madrid and Rome finals. 

In the Madrid final, Sabalenka fell just short in a thriller that lasted over three hours - during which she heartbreakingly missed out on three championship points. This past Saturday in the Rome final, Sabalenka again lost but this time didn't come anywhere near beating the world No. 1 as the Pole clinched a 6-2 6-3 win. 

During the trophy ceremony, Sabalenka joked she would beat Swiatek in the French Open final and serve the biggest possible revenge to the Pole.

"This time I’m not gonna forget, I’m gonna start with Iga (laughing). Congrats on incredible couple of weeks here in Rome. Great stuff; great tennis. And I hope we’re gonna make it to the final of Roland Garros, and I’m gonna get you there,... Just kidding. I guess I’ll try to do better than today," Sabalenka told Swiatek on the court.

Responding to Sabalenka, Swiatek jokingly told the Belarusian she wouldn't let that happen: "Aryna, another final, another great battle. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Thanks for sharing the court with me and really pushing me to be better. We’ll see about that Roland Garros final."

Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek
Aryna Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Sabalenka on her French Open chances

Leading up to the French Open, Sabalenka had a quarterfinal outing in Stuttgart and finished as runner-up in the two clay WTA 1000 tournaments. Although Sabalenka has not won any titles leading up to the second Grand Slam of the season, she still owns an 11-3 record on clay and certainly enters the French Open feeling confident about her game and level. 

And when asked directly if she would be willing to declare herself a favorite, Sabalenka cheekily suggested the second-seeded player is always a favorite but also highlighted that Swiatek remains the top favorite.

"Well, I mean, I'm not like underdog there. Being No. 2 seeded, it's tough to call yourself 'underdog,'" Sabalenka said.

"I'm definitely not the favorite probably there. But at the same time I do feel that I can actually go for it. It's 50/50, you know? But I prefer to be underdog (smiling).

"Yeah, I really hope I'm going to make it to the final and I really hope I'll be able to get that win, if it's Iga or not. It's an amazing tournament. It's a Grand Slam. I'll just go there and fight for every point and see what happens after the tournament."

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

Sabalenka reveals the latest on her back injury

During a three-set thriller round-of-16 win over Elina Svitolina, Sabalenka contracted a back injury and her participation in the remainder of the tournament was in question. But after getting some treatment, Sabalenka was able to continue her Rome run and ultimately finish as the runner-up. 

Following the conclusion of her Rome run, Sabalenka shared that for the majority of time her back was responding well in the last couple of days but noted that there were certain moments in her last few matches where she would feel some pain. 

"Well, when you have some sort of injury and you're trying to recovery during the tournament, anyways it stays in the back of your mind. You try to kind of, like, protect your body a little bit. So probably in some points there was moments where I could push myself a little bit more but I didn't want to get injured before Roland Garros, so..." Sabalenka explained.

"It's kind of like affecting you a little bit just by being there in the back of your mind. But I wouldn't say I lost the match today because of my back. Obviously not.

"But, yeah, I think I did pretty well here in Rome struggling with illness, then injury, lots of stuff happened. Anyway, proud of myself that I've been able to get to the final, no matter what."

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

At this year's French Open, Sabalenka will be aiming to make her first final at Roland Garros. Last year, Sabalenka came really close to reaching the French Open final but fell just short after blowing a 5-2 lead in the third set of her semifinal match versus Karolina Muchova.

Aryna Sabalenka Iga Swiatek