In the world of women’s tennis, there is one star outshining the rest at this moment in time. That star is Iga Świątek. The 21-year-old Pole looks nigh on unstoppable and, as Wimbledon approaches, she’s tipped as the favourite for many.
It’s not hard to see why. Świątek is far clear of everyone else in the WTA rankings. She has over 8,500 points heading into Wimbledon. That’s around twice as many as anyone else on the tour. Anett Kontaveit, the world number two, has around 4,500. It’s a simple demonstration of how much the Pole is dominating the women’s game at the moment.
Świątek is the current French Open champion, having won the tournament for the second time in three years, after her first success in 2020. After reaching the semi-final stage of the Australian Open, Świątek won five tournaments in a row – Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, and Rome. She has played irresistible tennis at times, and many will be looking to back her on a betting exchange.
However, others will be a little more uncertain about picking Świątek as their favourite. Nobody would doubt the Pole’s ability, but there are a couple of factors to bear in mind. Firstly, in the run up to Wimbledon, Świątek missed the German Open, and the chance to get some much-needed minutes on grass under her belt. She will almost certainly have been training on the surface to make up for it, but the lack of competitive tennis may tell when the tournament comes around.
What’s more, grass is a very different surface to clay, which many think best suits her natural game. Świątek hasn’t lost on clay this season, and you’d have to go back to 2019 to find a year where she lost more than two games on the surface. She has an 87% win percentage on clay, and it’s clearly where she’s most at home.
She doesn’t look uncomfortable on hard courts either. She has a 75% win percentage which, although a drop from her clay form, is still more than impressive. However, her win percentage on grass is more concerning, at only 58%.
There’s a caveat, Świątek has only played eight top-level matches on grass. She’s featured at Wimbledon twice in her career, making the first round in 2019, and the fourth round in 2021. However, more generally, she doesn’t have that much experience on grass. There are some who think this could be a real problem for her.
Traditionally, clay court specialists haven’t found the adaptation to grass easy to pull off, primarily because of the difference in the speed of the surfaces. However, this is less of a concern with Świątek than it is with other players. She has a varied game, and is an adaptable player, able to change her game for different opponents – or surfaces.
Furthermore, as Martina Navratilova spoke about recently, the difference between the surfaces is not what it used to be: “There’s not as much difference between clay and grass as there used to be,” she said. “The clay is playing faster, with the use of lighter balls, and the grass is playing slower.”
Navratilova, who knows a thing or to about Grand Slam success, having won Wimbledon nine times, was discussing Świątek’s chances of success, and she seemed confident that the Pole would manage the change to grass without too many problems. Seeing how Świątek has handled everything else she’s faced this year, it’s hard to disagree.
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