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Is a Fourth French Open Title for Iga Swiatek Inevitable?

Iga Swiatek won the 2023 French Open.

It has been over four months since the defending French Open champion, Iga Swiatek, was shocked by Linda Noskova at the Australian Open. Despite her previous incredible achievements, some began to question the world No. 1 after she was unable to reach the semifinal stage of a Grand Slam for the third time in a row. However, the Pole has silenced her critics emphatically since then with a run of sublime tennis. Unsurprisingly, she is the favourite to retain her title at the French Open. Is there any hope for her rivals trying to topple her in Paris?

Is A Fourth French Open Title For Iga Swiatek Inevitable?

Swiatek’s Terrific Season So Far

The world No. 1 immediately stamped her authority on hard courts after her Australian Open loss. She won her second title at the WTA 1000 event in Doha with a final win against the 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. After a run to the semifinal in Dubai, Swiatek claimed the title in Indian Wells by beating Maria Sakkari in the final. A subsequent loss against Ekaterina Alexandrova in the Round of 16 at the Miami Open was only a small blemish.

Unsurprisingly, Swiatek then thrived during her favourite clay-court season after the momentum she built. The four-time Grand Slam champion started with a semifinal appearance in Stuttgart. That was followed by a maiden title in Madrid, where Swiatek overcame Aryna Sabalenka in one of the matches of the season. But the 22-year-old did not stop there. A fourth WTA 1000 title of 2024 so far was secured after a much more comfortable final triumph against Sabalenka. This is the Pole’s most dominant-ever start to a clay-court season. That has raised media expectations even further for her French Open defense.

Technically, Swiatek has undoubtedly been the best WTA player in the world on the dirt for a few years. However, one area that has greatly improved is her serve. Swiatek has won 83.6% of her service games in 2024, which is the highest on the WTA Tour and significantly higher than she managed in previous seasons. The world No. 1’s serve has commonly been seen as her weakness, but better placement has made it far less attackable. That change has made the best WTA clay-court player on the planet even more formidable.

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Is There Any Hope For Swiatek’s Rivals At The French Open?

Swiatek’s form and record of three French Open titles in four years could make leave her rivals feeling defeated. They will seek to find the positives from their recent meetings. Rybakina is likely to find that the easiest due to being the only player to beat Swiatek on clay in 2024. She also has a 4-2 head-to-head record over the world No. 1. Although Swiatek is adept at playing against any style, opponents with the powerful and flat shots that Rybakina possesses have caused her the most issues.

Tw0-time Australian Open champion Sabalenka will need to shake off her comprehensive defeat to Swiatek in Rome. She will take greater encouragement from the very close Madrid final. Admittedly, the conditions are different there compared to the French Open due to the altitude. But if Sabalenka serves and hits as powerfully off both wings as she did in Madrid, it will at least give her a chance against Swiatek.

US Open champion Coco Gauff has a deflating 1-10 record against Swiatek. This includes losing all four of their meetings on clay. The world No. 1 has exploited Gauff’s weaker forehand in most of their previous meetings. However, the American actually improved in that area in her 3-6 4-6 defeat to Swiatek in this year’s Italian Open semifinal. Gauff held her own in the rallies; it was mistakes on her serve that proved costly. The world No. 3 will hope to challenge at the French Open if she improves in that area.

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Despite these factors, it is clear that Swiatek’s racket holds the French Open title. Her opponents need to play their best tennis to have an opportunity to stop her, but if Swiatek plays at her maximum level in Paris, no one else can match her.

Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane – USA TODAY Sports


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