2024 Madrid Open WTA PREVIEW: Aryna SABALENKA defends title as Queen of Clay Iga SWIATEK aims for first Roland Garros run title

Tuesday, 23 April 2024 at 08:52
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The Madrid Open starts on Tuesday April 23 running until Sunday May 5 with two weeks of action set to take place at the famous Caja Magica. Our WTA Preview runs through the leading lights and top names who will compete for the prestigious title on the road to Roland Garros currently held by Aryna Sabalenka.
Sabalenka won the title last year in a run of titles that many expected Aryna Sabalenka to win. But Elena Rybakina then won Rome and this season so far, the latter won in Stuttgart. So the onus will be on the World No.1 to make a successful start to her clay court campaign with a title especially given how successful she has been in previous years.

Swiatek starts as favourite ahead of chasing pack

Iga Swiatek still hasn't solved the riddle that is the Madrid Open though meaning that it is a tournament steeped in mystery when it comes to the Queen of Clay who has won basically every title possible on the surface apart from in Madrid. She reached the final last year but lost to Sabalenka. She spoke prior to the 2023 edition and admitted she still hadn't figured it out. Whether that is still the case remains to be seen but certainly food for thought.
She will certainly have more fire in her belly though this time. This after she surrendered her flawless streak at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix Stuttgart with Elena Rybakina sealing the title and stealing her thunder. Perhaps not winning Stuttgart serves as a pre cursor to sealing Madrid. "Obviously I want to win every tournament that I go to, but Madrid, for sure, is still this kind of tournament that I haven't figured it out for 100 percent," said Swiatek, as per wtatennis.com.
"So I just want to get the experience. Winning would mean that I would play six matches, so that's a lot and I can learn a lot from that.
From one of her best runs of her career to grief: Current state of Aryna Sabalenka's title defence uncertain.
From one of her best runs of her career to grief: Current state of Aryna Sabalenka's title defence uncertain.
But truthfully there are minimal players among the chasing pack that can hang with Swiatek and Rybakina right now. Evidenced by withdrawals and poor form, Aryna Sabalenka went from one of the greatest moments of her career at the Australian Open winning it for a second time to grief. This after the passing of ex-boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov in Miami. She has appeared more jubilant since as much as she can be. But she has suffered a string of losses to Anhelina Kalinina and Marketa Vondrousova which won't give her too much confidence.

Top four far and away in rankings - can anyone pick up the pieces of poor form?

Coco Gauff struggled with a puzzle in Marta Kostyuk in a poor match again between the pair and she has not been in the same form since winning the US Open. She has struggled with her serve in particular still. But the only silver lining for all of the top four is that minimal players ranking wise can really usurp them.
Swiatek is far and away the top player. While Sabalenka, Rybakina and Gauff who will likely change hands in terms of their rankings the next few weeks are still way ahead of the rest. Jessica Pegula for instance won't play in Madrid, Maria Sakkari since her whirlwind Sunshine Double has only played Billie Jean King Cup. While the other standout has been Danielle Collins and it is unsure whether that stunning form will continue into the clay court season.
Aryna Sabalenka even when it came to he previous two titles suffered in adjacent years to reproduce and that pattern could return. Others involved of note in Madrid also include the stories as ever of Emma Raducanu, Naomi Osaka among others. Simona Halep won't play due to continued injury struggles. But the field as ever is stacked and given the current nature of WTA tennis, aside from the top names who knows on the rest of the draw. But that is what makes it entertaining.

Aryna Sabalenka in the WTA 1000 Madrid main draw 2018: ❌ 2019: ❌ 2021: ✅✅✅✅✅✅ (🏆) 2022: ❌ 2023: ✅✅✅✅✅✅ (🏆) 5 appearances 3 times she lost in the opening round 2 times she won the trophy beating the world #1 in the final


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