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WTA Power Rankings: Who Can Challenge Iga Swiatek on Clay?  – Tennis Canada

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With Iga Swiatek heading into the WTA clay-court season with a pair of hard-court 1000 titles to her name in 2024, it is fair to say that she is the overwhelming favourite at every upcoming event on the clay. 

The National Bank Open Power Rankings panel certainly thinks so, as they unanimously agreed that she owns the top spot on our list to compliment her WTA No. 1 ranking. 

So the real question facing the WTA Tour now as the surface changes is this: who is the most likely player to threaten the Queen of Clay? 

This week, the Power Rankings try to figure that out. 

(Brackets indicate change in position since the last edition of the Power Rankings from before Indian Wells)

1. Iga Swiatek (-)

  • Actual Ranking: 1
  • 2024 Record: 22-3  
  • Notable Recent Results: Indian Wells Champion  
  • Best Big Clay Results: Rome (2021, 2022) and Roland-Garros (2020, 2022, 2023) Champion

How could anyone go against a player who has won Roland-Garros three times already by the age of 22?  

On top of Grand Slam success, Swiatek has claimed titles on clay in Stuttgart (2022, 2023) and Rome. While skilled on any surface, the World No. 1 is especially at ease on clay and should be considered the heavy favourite in any event she enters on the red dirt.  

A fourth title at the French Open would have her pass all-time greats Monica Seles and Serena Williams (three each) and tie her with Justin Henin. 

– Mike

2. Elena Rybakina (+1)

  • Actual Ranking: 4
  • 2024 Record: 22-4  
  • Notable Recent Results: Miami Runner-Up
  • Best Big Clay Results: Rome Champion (2023), Roland-Garros QF (2021)

With four finals berths this season, Elena Rybakina is a dangerous player, and she’ll be out for revenge after that disappointing loss in Miami.

Read also: Clay-Court Transition Extra Prominent on 2024 Calendar

Expect the defending champion at the WTA 1000 Italian Open to be just as merciless on clay as she is on the other surfaces. A member of the “Big Three” along with Aryna Sabalenka and Swiatek, Rybakina has every chance at more finals very soon. She’s definitely one to watch.

Abraham

3. Aryna Sabalenka (-1)

  • Actual Ranking: 2
  • 2024 Record: 14-4 
  • Notable Recent Results: Indian Wells R4  
  • Best Big Clay Results: Madrid Champion (2021, 2023), Roland-Garros SF (2023)

Aryna Sabalenka was exceptionally close to reaching the French Open final last season, holding a 5-2, third-set lead in the semifinals against Karolina Muchova. 

Since then, the power-hitting Belarusian only got hungrier for more success, reaching the finals of the US Open, briefly taking hold of the No. 1 ranking, and kicking off 2024 by winning her second major title in Australia. 

While Sabalenka’s game is at its very best on hard courts, it does translate across all surfaces – she reached two clay court finals last season and captured her second career Madrid title with an upset win over Swiatek. 

Ben

4. Coco Gauff (-)

  • Actual Ranking: 3 
  • 2024 Record: 18-5  
  • Notable Recent Results: Indian Wells SF  
  • Best Big Clay Results: Rome SF (2021), Roland-Garros Runner-Up (2022)

Coco Gauff really shines on clay.

Her 71.62 per cent winning percentage on the red brick dust makes her a formidable opponent, and she’ll be making the transition to the surface with a laser focus on stringing together as many wins as possible.

Read also: James Blake Discusses Running the Miami Open

She competed in the singles final at Roland-Garros in 2022 and the doubles finals in Paris (2021), Madrid (2023) and Rome (2023). If her past performances are any indication, Gauff should come through.

Sarah-Jade

5. Maria Sakkari (New)

  • Actual Ranking: 7  
  • 2024 Record: 12-6 
  • Notable Recent Results: Indian Wells Runner-Up  
  • Best Big Clay Results: Madrid (2023), Rome (2019), and Roland-Garros (2021) SF

Only one woman reached at least the quarter-finals of both Indian Wells and Miami, that being Maria Sakkari. At the former, she got all the way to the final, beating the likes of Caroline Garcia and Gauff before pushing Swiatek hard for a set in the final.

The Greek has seen success on the red dirt in the past, reaching the semifinals of all three big clay events on the WTA Tour and was a point away from the 2021 French Open final. She is playing some of her best tennis right now heading onto a surface where she is comfortable.  

Pete

6. Jessica Pegula (+1)

  • Actual Ranking: 5  
  • 2024 Record: 9-5 
  • Notable Recent Results: Miami QF 
  • Best Big Clay Results: Madrid Runner-Up (2022), Roland-Garros QF (2022) 

Jessica Pegula is a tough and determined rival.

Clay may not be her favourite, but she’s done well on the surface time and time again. In 2022, she got as far as the singles final in Madrid and the doubles final in Paris. Last season, she was a doubles finalist in Madrid and Rome. Will she raise her first winner’s trophy on the European dirt this year?

Read also: Five Canadians Kicking Off 2024 Clay Season

Whatever happens, Pegula can count on her fighting spirit to help her dig deep and win matches. Now all she has to do over the next few weeks is find the cracks in her opponents’ games.

Sarah-Jade

7. Jelena Ostapenko (-1)

  • Actual Ranking: 10 
  • 2024 Record: 17-6  
  • Notable Recent Results: Miami R3  
  • Best Big Clay Results: Rome SF (2023), Roland-Garros Champion (2017)

There have been stretches of the 2024 season so far where Jelena Ostapenko has been borderline unbeatable (unless your name is Victoria Azarenka). Now she heads to the surface where she won the biggest title of her career, the 2017 French Open. 

Read also: ATP Pre-Clay Power Rankings

Since winning Roland-Garros as a 20-year-old, she has struggled in Paris. But the Latvian has reached the quarter-finals or better in Rome three times in her career. Ostapenko may be the ultimate boom-bust player on the WTA Tour, but she is more than capable of scoring big wins on the clay. 

– Pete

8. Danielle Collins (New)

  • Actual Ranking: 22  
  • 2024 Record: 20-7 
  • Notable Recent Results: Miami Champion 
  • Best Big Clay Results: Rome R3 (2022), Roland-Garros QF (2020)

Danielle Collins orchestrated the win we never saw coming when she lifted the winner’s trophy in Miami. Though she’d been a little quieter since her Australian Open 2022 final run, the American ace is back.

Her new hardware brings momentum that could take her further than ever before. She’s had decent runs at Roland-Garros, getting as far as the quarters in 2020 with wins over Garbine Muguruza and Ons Jabeur. Anything is possible!

Abraham

9. Beatriz Haddad Maia (New)

  • Actual Ranking: 13 
  • 2024 Record: 8-9  
  • Notable Recent Results: Indian Wells and Miami R3  
  • Best Big Clay Results: Rome QF (2023), Roland-Garros SF (2023)

Beatriz Haddad Maia might be ranked 13th on the WTA Tour but she is definitely a big threat playing on clay. She had a deep run at Roland-Garros last year before falling to Iga Swiatek in the semifinals.  

Haddad Maia has proven to be an all-surface player, with finalist appearances on hard court (including in Toronto in 2022) and clay along with two grass court titles. Canadian tennis fans have seen Haddad Maia push the best, as when she defeated World No. 1 Swiatek in during that Toronto run in the round of sixteen.  

– Mike

10. Ons Jabeur (New)

  • Actual Ranking: 6  
  • 2024 Record: 2-5 
  • Notable Recent Results: Indian Wells and Miami R2  
  • Best Big Clay Results: Madrid Champion (2022), Roland-Garros QF (2023)

The Tunisian, who has been dealing with various issues, has just two singles wins in 2024, suffering opening-round exits at three consecutive events. 

Read also: Shapovalov – 2024 Edition

There is reason for optimism as the tour changes surfaces. Jabeur has won two of her five career titles on clay courts, won Charleston last year, has been to the finals in Rome, and is a former quarter-finalist at Roland-Garros. 

With additional time now to heal her body, and a little extra time on the slower clay surface to manipulate the ball as she pleases, the 27-year-old can get her season back on track. 

– Ben 

The National Bank Open Power Rankings are a group collaboration by the Power Rankings Panel which includes:

The WTA’s best return to Toronto this summer for the National Bank Open August 4 to 12, 2024 at Sobeys Stadium. 2024 Tickets are on sale. Get your tickets today!

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