Aryna Sabalenka was ranked World No. 1 in her first stint for just a few weeks last season, but she has a shot at reclaiming the top spot again in 2024.
Sabalenka defended the Australian Open this past weekend, beating China's Qinwen Zheng in the final. She did not drop a set in her march to the title, and such dominance can only be attributed to the best of their craft.
February is a critical month for the 25-year-old from Minsk, who will have a genuine chance of replacing Iga Swiatek at the top of the WTA standings. And here are five valid reasons why Sabalenka is primed to overtake the Pole.
5. Biggest Ball-striker On WTA Tour
Very few WTA players have the power and the strength to match Sabalenka's nuclear ball-striking. The scary thing is that the Belarusian, who has been labeled erratic and profligate because of her risk-tolerant attitude, has incorporated a more sustainable way of playing smarter tennis.
Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash recently proclaimed the Berlsuain powerhouse the modern-day Serena Williams. Not only is Sabalenka armed with devastating power off both wings, but she is also a clean hitter on the run. With these qualities, Sabalenka is expected to be tough to beat this season.
4. Transformational Serve
In 2022, Sabalenka's service yips became a hot topic of discussion. However, she is reaping the fruits of her labor and investment after working with a biomechanics specialist to modify her service motion.
Sabalenka was among the top three players who clocked the fastest serve speed at the 2024 Australian Open women's tournament and recorded the second-most aces during the fortnight. The serve will be the cornerstone to Sabalenka's success and potentially knock Swiatek off her perch.
3. Desire To Become The Best
Players don't just become World No. 1s without actually working for it. Sabalenka has stated that it was her father's wish that she became the world's best player, something she tasted for a relatively short period of time after the 2023 US Open.
Sabalenka lost that title to Swiatek at the WTA Finals but is determined to get back there. Following her successful title defense at the Australian Open, the Belarusian served notice that she was not letting up in fear of becoming a one-time Grand Slam wonder. Her priorities are vindicated.
2. Fear Factor
Not since the final peak of the legendary Serena Williams has a WTA player brought that intimidating factor onto the court. But Aryna Sabalenka appears to have this within her armory. While tennis matches are battles of endurance and tests of stamina, the ability to induce fear in your opponent is the effortless way of winning matches.
1. Grand Slam Pedigree
Sabalenka has been the WTA's most consistent player at the Grand Slam level for over a year. Since the start of the 2022 US Open, Sabalenka has reached the semifinals or better at the next six Grand Slam tournaments she competed in, winning two titles.
No woman has won more matches than the 25-year-old in the timespan, and if this productive run is prolonged this year, there is a good chance she will take over as the World No. 1 again.