The transition from clay to grass within the three-week interval between the French Open and Wimbledon is notoriously troublesome. Determining how to peak at each Roland Garros and SW19 is a talent that takes years to grasp, and the brief interlude solely heightens the strain that gamers face when they’re pressured to modify to the brand new bounce and configure their motion on the starkly completely different floor.
Final yr, Iga Swiatek arrived at Wimbledon on the again of a 35-match win streak and because the dominant drive on the prime of girls’s tennis, but admitted she allowed the distinctive problem grass presents to throw her off her recreation. A thigh damage that restricted her preparation time even additional did not assist the 22-yr-outdated’s confidence or mentality to assault the competitors. Swiatek regarded uncomfortable on the grass from her opening match and ultimately it was not nice shock that a wily opponent equivalent to Alize Cornet claimed the upset in solely the third spherical.
However the temper, it appears, is completely different now. For one, Swiatek has been ready to play matches on grass forward of Wimbledon – with the Pole trying quite extra settled ultimately week’s heat-up match at Dangerous Homburg. Swiatek is extra adjusted to her place of World No 1 and has since added two extra grand slams to her resume – a 3rd French Open in 4 years, in addition to the US Open final September.
Whereas her expectations stay comparatively low, Swiatek is additionally ready to take a freer strategy into Wimbledon with out a report profitable streak to lengthen. “Final yr I felt quite a lot of strain right here as a result of I used to be primary,” Swiatek stated. “I don’t know. I really feel like this time, this is the primary yr the place I might simply concentrate on practising, really studying loads. So hopefully I’m going to give you the chance to use that on my matches.”
This, too, earlier than you contemplate the draw. Tennis has a brand new massive three with Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina – the winners of the final 5 grand slam titles. Earlier than Wimbledon, and assuming all gamers can be at their full health, most observers would have positioned Rybakina because the favorite to defend her title with Sabalenka, a former semi-finalist on the All England Membership, not far behind. But each Rybakina and Sabalenka have fallen into the identical half of the draw, together with a number of harmful threats who’ve discovered type coming into Wimbledon.
The 2-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is amongst them, on Rybakina’s facet, after her title in Berlin. Jelena Ostapenko, a current winner in Birmingham, is additionally within the combine in that quarter of the bracket, whereas final yr’s Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur could also be wanting type but has the instruments and grass-court docket recreation to go on one other run. Equally, Karolina Muchova is set to take pleasure in her return to grass after placing final season’s damage struggles behind her by making the French Open closing final month. Muchova’s enterprising all-court docket recreation defeated Sabalenka within the Roland Garros semi-finals, they usually might meet within the fourth spherical at Wimbledon.
Neither Rybakina or Sabalenka are possible to have an easy first week. Rybakina comes into Wimbledon “prepared” but after having her preparations disrupted by the virus that pressured the 24-yr-outdated to pull out of the French Open final month. Sabalenka should additionally take care of the added scrutiny that has adopted the return of Russian and Belarusian gamers at this yr’s Wimbledon. Sabalenka, the World No 2 and prime-ranked Belarusian at this yr’s Championships, has stated she is going to not reply questions on the conflict this fortnight after skipping two press conferences on the French Open.
Swiatek’s draw is way more beneficial by comparability. Jessica Pegula and Caroline Garcia are the highest seeds in her half, though it’s exhausting to have a lot confidence in both forward of Wimbledon, or in Coco Gauff if the American was to play Swiatek at some stage: Gauff is but to win a set in her seven defeats to the World No 1. That, in spite of everything, is what Swiatek can do to her rivals: the Pole may be dominant and ruthless. There is an opportunity right here to progress additional than ever on the All England Membership – but whether or not Swiatek can carry her aggressive recreation to take it is very a lot depending on how quickly she is ready to discover her toes on its pristine grass.