John McEnroe: Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina now ‘real challengers’ for Iga Swiatek


John McEnroe believes Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina are now “going to be real challengers” for Iga Swiatek.

Swiatek, ranked at No 1 in the world, was considered the top favorite for the Australian Open title but then Rybakina handed her a straight-set defeat in the round-of-16. 

Later, Rybakina went on to reach the Australian Open final, in which she suffered a three-set defeat to Sabalenka.

Sabalenka, who also won Adelaide in the first week of the season, is 11-0 in 2023 and she has improved to No 2 following her back-to-back triumphs at the start of the season. 

Now, McEnroe feels Swiatek has got the competition and he thinks it’s a good thing for the women’s game. 

McEnroe warns: Sabalenka, Rybakina will challenge Swiatek 

“I think they’re both going to be real challengers now for Iga Swiatek and that’s a very good thing. They’ll obviously both have a lot of confidence for the rest of the season. I hope that the politics won’t disturb Sabalenka. You have to wonder what will happen in Wimbledon. So hopefully that’s not going to be an issue. As far as their tennis abilities, yes they can be a threat to Swiatek. Mentally, it looked like Swiatek was dealing with some issues in Australia. Whether it was the pressure or something off the court I don’t know, but she was not at her best. But I suspect on clay she’ll be back so she’ll probably go at the French Open as the big favourite,” McEnroe told Eurosport

After winning Wimbledon six months ago, 23-year-old Rybakina fell just short of winning her second Grand Slam title at the Australian Open but she is now enjoying a career-high ranking of No 10.

On the other side, Sabalenka looks like a different player at the start of the 2023 season as she is now a Grand Slam champion and ranked just behind Swiatek. 

It will be interesting to see if Sabalenka and Rybakina can have more Grand Slam success in the rest of the year. 

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