Iga Swiatek vs Aryna Sabalenka: A Preview of Their Rome Final 2024 and Their Rivalry

Swiatek and Sabalenka could become tennis’ biggest story heading into Roland Garros if they deliver another thrilling match.
When Does a “Matchup” Turn into a “Rivalry”?

Roman numerals could have a meaning. You can tell a match is significant and possibly historic if spectators and the media begin giving a pair of players’ performances Xs and Vs, a la Super Bowl.

Iga Swiatek vs Aryna Sabalenka: A Preview of Their Rome Final 2024 and Their Rivalry

So yet, none of those statistics have shown beside a Swiatek-Sabalenka match. Perhaps it’s because they haven’t faced each other in a Grand Slam match. Or perhaps it’s because Swiatek leads their head-to-head match 7-3, which is a rather one-sided advantage. Or perhaps it’s because, since 2022, the two guys who have held the top two rankings, they haven’t really had a lot of matchups. Although they are the two greatest players in their respective mini-eras, their rivalry hasn’t yet defined a period.

That might soon be different. Last month in the Madrid final, Swiatek and Sabalenka put up their most dramatic encounter to date. It lasted three hours and saw Sabalenka have three match points, but Swiatek prevailed 9-7 in a third-set tiebreaker. They will now face off once more on the same track in just two weeks, with pole position at Roland Garros up for grabs.

Nearly 20 years ago, this is how two of the most iconic rivalries of this century began: Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer and Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic. Going into Paris, Swiatek and Sabalenka might become the biggest story in tennis if they can put on another suspenseful show or just a competitive, well-played final.

First things first, though: Who has a better chance of winning on Saturday? Here is a summary of some of the main aspects of the game.

Serve and Return

Sabalenka has more opportunities to earn free points with hers, although double faults during pressured situations are always possible. Sabalenka can still be punished by Swiatek’s second serve, but she does a good job of using her swinging wide serve on the deuce court.

Sabalenka ought to be a formidable opponent for Swiatek when he serves second. However, Swiatek’s backhand return on second serves gave her the early advantage and kept her in the game till the end in Madrid. This time, let’s see if Sabalenka can avoid that shot.

Ground Stroke

Similar to the serve, Sabalenka has greater raw power from both sides, but Swiatek is usually more consistent and in control throughout a match, barring an anomaly. The slower pace of life in Rome may like Swiatek, as it means Sabalenka has less opportunities to push her.

Also Read: The Intense Showdown Between Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka at Mutua Madrid Open 2024


Similar to Madrid, Sabalenka enters the final having played two three-setters and coming from just short of defeat, losing 9-7 in a third-set tiebreaker to Elina Svitolina. Swiatek, on the other hand, had not dropped a set going into the match.

In Madrid, Sabalenka benefited from taking a day off between games; in Rome, this has been even more evident. She considered pulling out of the Svitolina match because her back was aching. However, she utilized the extra day—”Lucky me, I had an extra day”—to recuperate.

Iga Swiatek vs Aryna Sabalenka: A Preview of Their Rome Final 2024 and Their Rivalry

That being said, it shouldn’t matter how they’ve performed relative to one another during the last ten days on Saturday.

Mental Edge

Sabalenka stated that her defeat by Swiatek in Madrid “hurt me a lot,” hence she had to be resolved to never experience such emotions once more. She declares that she will “just go for it” if she has a match point this time. It will be her first opportunity to win a title in Rome as well.

With her semifinal victory over Coco Gauff, Swiatek seemed at ease with her game. She has dominated every game that she has played, and today will be her first opportunity to win the Madrid-Rome double. Additionally, she’ll want to hold onto any advantage she has over Sabalenka’s trip to Paris.

The slower surface and Swiatek’s recent hot streak could ultimately be the decisive factors in this one. In Swiatek-Sabalenka XI, too, if she can defeat Sabalenka on the faster courts in Madrid, that is.

Predicted Winner: Iga Swiatek

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