The tennis great has named his favourite to lift the women’s singles title in Wimbledon 2023.
The last two years have seen the rise of a great new three-way rivalry in women’s tennis, as the three highest-ranked players in the world have begun competing in the biggest matches at the biggest stages. Number one ranked Iga Swiatek wrapped up the victory of her third Roland Garros title, and fourth grand slam overall, only a few months after Aryna Sabalenka delivered on her power and promise by beating defending Wimbledon champion Elena Sabalenka at the Australian Open.
In addition to the last four slams going to this trio, they have also already competed against each other in important matches, and are largely evenly-matched, with play styles which dominate the rest of the tour but are returned with as much fire by their rivals. The question on everyone’s minds entering Wimbledon 2023 is which of them will lift the famous trophy at the end of the fortnight — whether Rybakina can defend her title, Swiatek complete the ‘surface slam’, or Sabalenka take over world number one with a victory.
Former American tennis star weighed in on the debate while speaking to the Tennis Channel, claiming that his bet to win the tournament was Kazakhstan’s Rybakina, and he had a very simple reason for why he holds that belief.
“[Elena Rybakina is my favorite to win at the All England Club] because she’s the best grasscourt player in the world. It’s pretty straightforward,” said the former world number one. Roddick won his only grand slam at the US Open at the age of 21, and reached the Wimbledon finals in 2004, 2005, and 2009, losing to Federer on all three occasions. He came closest to winning in the famous 2009 final, as Federer could only break the American’s serve once, winning 16-14 in the final set to claim his at the time record-setting 15th grand slam title.
“You won’t find a bigger fan of Iga Swiatek than me,” continued Roddick. “I have so much respect for her and so none of this is a slight to Iga, but she’s unproven on this surface.” Swiatek’s best result at Wimbledon is only the fourth round in 2021, a record she will be looking to improve.
“I’m sure she would probably tell you the same thing and she does have some challenges on this surface. And what she does creating those RPMs, the movement that she has on clay, those things don’t translate to a grasscourt,” said Roddick. Swiatek enjoys a stellar record at Roland Garros, winning the tournament thrice in only five attempts. She has also reached the semifinals of the Australian Open and won the US Open in 2022, but it hasn’t come together yet for the 22-year-old on grass.
Roddick provides the same reason as a factor in why Rybakina is more comfortable on grass. “Conversely, everything that is a struggle for Rybakina on clay with the movement, slowing down her shots through the court, is additive at Wimbledon. So I don’t know how you can’t make Rybakina the favorite.” Rybakina showed great control of her power and accuracy with flat groundstrokes at last year’s Wimbledon, her front-foot-first tennos translating to a breakthrough victory.
Rybakina has enjoyed an incredible first half to 2023, breaking into the top 10 for the first time and now residing in the number three rank after reaching the finals of the Australian Open, as well as the 1000 events at Indian Wells, Miami, and Rome. At the other two 1000 events, Dubai and Madrid, Swiatek was a losing finalist, and along with her result at Roland Garros, she has proved she is holding on hungrily to her top-ranked spot. Tennis fans will be hoping to watch a memorable battle between the two at Wimbledon, where a true rivalry might be sparked into action.