John McEnroe thought Iga Swiatek “looked slightly irritable” in her French Open first-round match and suggested the Pole is feeling “a lot more pressure this year” because of Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina’s presence.
Swiatek, the defending French Open champion, struggled in the first set before handing world No 70 Cristina Bucsa a 6-4 6-0 loss. Swiatek, who was twice down by a break in the first set, also faced a break point at 4 -4 in the first set – but managed to save it and then dominate the rest of the match.
At this year’s French Open, Swiatek is widely considered the No 1 favorite to win her third title at Roland Garros. But unlike last year, Swiatek now has real competition in Sabalenka and Rybakina – who have had wins over the Pole on the biggest stage in 2023.
McEnroe: Swiatek is feeling a lot more pressure this year
“She [Swiatek] seemed a little off in the beginning, but I don’t think she was stressing a whole lot. She looked slightly irritable. She’s been feeling a lot more pressure this year because everyone expects her to win every tournament and suddenly, Rybakina and Sabalenka h ave both stepped up and they’re the two who are most likely to win this if it’s not Iga, because they’re the ones who can take the racquet out of her hand.
Otherwise, I’d pick Iga to win this on the clay. In these dry, slippery conditions, they might help a big hitter like Rybakina or Sabalenka. They go for big shots and that might cause Swiatek problems, as she’s the best movers that I’ve ever seen, up with Serena [Williams] and Kim Clijsters, the all-time great movers.
If conditions get heavier, I’d pick her to win it,” McEnroe told EurosportThis year, Swiatek was beaten by Rybakina at the Australian Open and Indian Wells, while she was also forced to retire her Rome quarterfinal match against the Kazakh.
Against Sabalenka, Swiatek clinched a win in the Stuttgart final before losing to the Belarusian in the Madrid final.