Tennis News: Elena Rybakina's confession and Nick Kyrgios rattles Rafael Nadal

  • Rybakina discusses her clay-court form
  • Kyrgios talks about playing Nadal
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Elena Rybakina is one of the hardest hitters on the WTA tour. She is one of the few players who can overpower Iga Swiatek. The difference between Rybakina and Swiatek, however, and one reason Swiatek has mostly stayed atop the rankings for the last two years is that Swiatek is more consistent across all surfaces. Rybakina is not bad on clay, but she recently confessed she isn't quite where she wants to be.

Rybakina has won clay court titles before but she has never been a real challenger at the French Open. She has made the quarterfinals at the Grand Slam just once and has been bounced out in the third round in the past two years. Meanwhile, Swiatek has won at Roland Garros three times. She has four Grand Slam wins while Rybakina has only won Wimbledon once (2022).

Rybakina's career win percentage on clay is around 70 percent. This is close to her level on hard courts and under what her win-loss percentage is on grass. Her style, though, does not work as well on clay where the ball slows and there is more nuance needed to win consistently at a high level. So far, at least.

Elena Rybakina talks clay court form and Nick Kyrgios discusses playing Rafael Nadal

In a press conference after a match at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix this week where Rybakina made the semifinals, the Kazakh admitted to struggling on clay at times due to the season being so short and that does not leave much time for adjustment (to be noted, Swiatek does not have the same concerns, though).

Rybakina said, "Well, I always believed that I can play good on clay. My first win on the WTA was on clay. It’s just the season is quite short, and of course me, for example, I need a bit more time to get used, to adapt, to play some matches."

Speaking of playing matches, early in his career Nick Kyrgios had several victories against the Big 3 of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. One of those matches was during Kyrgios' first time playing at Wimbledon (2014). He played and defeated Nadal in the early rounds of the event. In fact, in his first matches against Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic, Kyrgios won each time.

On a recent episode of his podcast, Good Trouble with Nick Kyrgios, he discussed what it was like to beat the Big 3 with Naomi Osaka, and Kyrgios said the three greats seemed shocked that he could beat them. This included defeating Nadal when Kyrgios was ranked well outside the top 100 and Nadal was ranked No. 1.

Kyrgios said, "I don't think Federer, Nadal or Djokovic ever thought they'd lose to me. I think they look back and they're like, 'How the hell did we manage to lose to him?'...Beating Rafa, I was ranked like a 150 in the world and he was world No. 1, I think, at Wimbledon. And then, it gave this belief that you could do it, like, you could just get there and rattle the scene a little bit and beat the best in the world."

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