It's time to view Aryna Sabalenka as a French Open favorite

Sabalenka has played high quality clay court matches in Madrid and Rome
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Media analysts try to pigeonhole women's tennis players by their superiority on a surface. Aryna Sabalenka is viewed as the hardcourt whiz while Iga Swiatek is believed to be the clay court queen, and Elena Rybakina is believed to own the grass court.

Recent history has helped to dictate these preconceived notions, but it may be time to revisit those thoughts as they pertain to Aryna Sabalenka. She has played excellent matches in back-to-back WTA 1000 clay court events in Madrid and Rome.

For this reason, Aryna Sabalenka has to be viewed as a favorite to win her first Grand Slam outside of Australia at the 2024 French Open.

Is Aryna Sabalenka a bigger favorite than Iga Swiatek?

There is no doubt that Iga Swiatek, the defending champion at Roland Garros, is also a favorite. Recently, Swiatek has not been as dominant. She struggled against Angelique Kerber in Rome; Kerber has had a great career but is better known for her hardcourt and grasscourt successes. Sabalenka and Swiatek played a high-quality final in Madrid with very little separating the champion (Swiatek) from the runner-up.

On Monday, Sabalenka played one of the best matches of the year against Elina Svitolina in the Round of 16 at the Italian Open. Sabalenka saved three match points, implemented a previously unseen impressive drop shot game, dealt with a back issue, and prevailed in a long three-set match that could have gone either way.

Sabalenka's high-power game is always associated with hardcourts, but she can adapt to the clay courts. The French Open and the Paris Summer Olympics in Roland Garros must be on Sabalenka's mind as she plays this spring European clay court swing.

Her game is high-risk and high-reward, but she is dealing with the unusual clay court bounces, and her athleticism is rarely discussed because her movement on the court is not as natural or intrinsic as Coco Gauff's, who as the 2022 French Open finalist also should be considered a French Open favorite.

Sabalenka's clay court resume has been impressive. She had two wins in Madrid, and three runner up finishes in Stuttgart. Her reputation as one of the toughest hardcourt players on the WTA Tour needs to be revised to reflect her clay court game that is continuing to improve and impress.

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