“Aryna Sabalenka could’ve won all four Slams in 2023” – Andrea Petkovic

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German former tennis player Andrea Petkovic has picked Aryna Sabalenka as the 2023 season’s best tennis player over Iga Swiatek. She stated that the Belarusian was close to winning all four Grand Slam tournaments in 2023.Sabalenka started the year with a bang by winning the Australian Open in January. She trounced Elena Rybakina in the final. At the French Open, she lost a close semifinal 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 5-7 to Karolina Muchova.

The Belarusian met a similar fate at Wimbledon, failing to go past Ons Jabeur despite winning the opening set in her final-four tie. She finished second best to Coco Gauff at the US Open, losing the final 6-2, 3-6, 2-6.On the other hand, Iga Swiatek also secured a Grand Slam trophy in 2023. She triumphed at Roland Garros with a victory over Muchova in the final. However, her performances in the remaining three Majors were underwhelming.The Pole bowed out of the Australian Open and US Open in the pre-quarterfinals and finished as a quarterfinalist at the Wimbledon Championships.In the context of Grand Slam performances, former World No. 9 Andrea Petkovic feels that Aryna Sabalenka was a better player than Swiatek in the 2023 season. In a recent episode of The Rennae Stubbs Tennis podcast, she said:

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“The reason why Aryna Sabalenka is the player of the year that she has a small edge over Iga Swiatek, she could’ve won all four slams [in 2023]. She won the Australian Open and she was 5-2 in the third set against Karolina Muchova [French Open]. Until then, she was No. 1 in leading wins on tour, she had won by far the most matches until then and it did kind of break her.”

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Andrea Petkovic added that women’s tennis needed equivalents of the ATP’s Big Three i.e. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, to have the excitement of fierce competition.

“I think the one thing that WTA was lacking in the past few years is rivalry… a defining rivalry. By rivalry, I don’t necessarily mean between two players, if we look at the men’s tour, we had Rafa, Roger, Novak… that’s not a rivalry between two players, that’s like a few players who you know will end up playing each other in the semis,” Petkovic said.

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The German suggested that the likes of Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina emerged as the big names, alongside Iga Swiatek, on the WTA tour.

“I think that was lacking so I was so excited to see it in the beginning of the year… Aryna Sabalenka and Rybakina closing that gap and Aryna Sabalenka just breathing down Iga’s neck,” Petkovic added.

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