Elena Rybakina shuts down 'overwhelming favorite' label amid dominant Wimbledon run

Rybakina asked how she deals with now being 'the overwhelming favorite' to win Wimbledon.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Elena Rybakina shuts down 'overwhelming favorite' label amid dominant Wimbledon run
© Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

Elena Rybakina seemingly got a bit fed up with being labeled as "the overwhelming favorite" to win Wimbledon as the Kazakh once again had to repeat that the job is still not done and that the players left in the tournament are there for a reason. 

Early in the tournament, three of the four top favorites exited - Aryna Sabalenka withdrew before her first-round match, Iga Swiatek lost in the third round while Coco Gauff got bounced in the round-of-16. 

After those exits, there was no doubt that 2022 Wimbledon champion Rybakina instantly became the true No. 1 favorite for the title. But the issue is that the 25-year-old Kazakh feels the media have blown that out of proportion. 

On Wednesday, Rybakina routinely beat last year's Wimbledon semifinalist Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-2 to set up a semifinal versus Barbora Krejcikova. In the remaining semifinal today, Jasmine Paolini will be taking on Donna Vekic. 

“Coming into this year’s semis as the overwhelming favorite, the only person to have won the tournament, how are you managing that pressure compared to in 2022?" the question that Rybakina received following her win over Svitolina read.

Rybakina answered: “I think it’s only you guys telling me that I’m the only one left who won this tournament. I don’t really think about it so much. In 2022 I was definitely more nervous than I am now.  It was the first time for me to play on Centre Court. It was a lot people, a lot of attention. Now I got used to it a bit. I’m taking these matches in a different way."

Rybakina: There are still two matches left...

Since Rybakina has dropped just one set en route to the Wimbledon semifinal and has been looking extremely well on the court over the last 10 days, there is no doubt that there are high chances of seeing the 25-year-old Kazakh also lift her second Slam title at The Championships. 

When asked if she is thinking about the prospect of landing her Wimbledon title No. 2, Rybakina made it clear that's something she is hoping to accomplish but also underlined that she still must win at least two matches to get there. 

“Well of course this is something I want to achieve and I want to do again. It’s getting closer but there are still two matches and tough opponents left. It’s just match by match. For now it was working well. I’m trying to continue with this mentality," Rybakina said.

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Rybakina on what has changed since the last time she was in this position

Two years ago, Rybakina wasn't among the favorites for the title when Wimbledon but she easily made the quarterfinal with four straight-set wins before also coming back from a set down to beat Ajla Tomljanovic. Then, Rybakina beat former world No. 1 Simona Halep in the semifinal before staging an impressive 3-6 6-2 6-2 comeback win over Ons Jabeur in the final for her maiden Major title.

Now, the 25-year-old Kazakh admits that she didn't expect she would make it that far two years ago. But now, she is not surprised and is fully ready for the moment. 

“Back then I wasn’t expecting to be that far in the draw. Now with all the experience and the time that’s passed, of course I come and I want to be in this stage of the tournament. I’m a much more experienced player for sure now. I know what to do. But there are nerves every time you go on court. It’s still the same. But I think I’m managing much better than before," Rybakina explained.

After saying that she is now more experienced, the Kazakh was asked to directly share what she now knows that she didn't know before. 

“I think just a little bit of everything. How to approach the matches. How to even do the practices in between. It’s a lot of things which come all together," Rybakina shared.

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill
 

Krejcikova is also a past Grand Slam champion but there is no doubt that Rybakina has the edge in today's matchup because the grass suits much better her game.

Elena Rybakina Wimbledon
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