Krakow, Poland – Poland’s first ever world number one tennis player is a hot favourite with the bookmakers to lift the sport’s most prestigious trophy at Wimbledon next month. The tournament is already shrouded in controversy, with many of the usual competitors absent for one political reason or another.
Still, Swiatek can’t control that and can only play the opponents against whom she is drawn. Let’s take a look at her prospects and those of two other major talents from Central Europe. But first, what’s all the controversy about?
The Russian ban
When the Lawn Tennis Association announced that Russian and Belarussian players would not be permitted to compete at Wimbledon, it said it was following government guidelines.
However, the ATP argued that the ban undermines its principle of any player having the right to compete on merit and without discrimination. At other tournaments, players from Russia and Belarus have simply played under a neutral flag.
The ATP has therefore withdrawn all ranking points from Wimbledon, which in turn has led to more big names questioning whether it’s worth participating this year. The net impact is hardest on the women’s game, as the LTA’s action effectively excluded six of the top 30 players in the game today.
Swiatek the bookies favourite
Iga Swiatek will need to cast all such matters from her mind. The important thing for her to focus on is that Wimbledon should now be an easier proposition than the French Open, a tournament she won in dominant style with a straight sets win over Coco Gauff last month.
That particular result made it a run of 35 consecutive match wins for the 21-year-old from Warsaw, and that in itself is a record that’s only been achieved by a handful of the very best players. In fact, it could be that the only thing standing in her way at Wimbledon is Wimbledon itself. The tournament carries more pressure than any other, and Swiatek will be well aware she has always underperformed here, never getting beyond the fourth round.
Karolina Pliskova could go a step further
While Swiatek is dominating the headlines, Czech player Karolina Pliskova has crept back up to number seven in the world rankings. The former world number one has been through the wringer in recent weeks and was sidelined through injury earlier in the season.
However, she clearly loves Wimbledon and made the final last year. She could be returning to form at just the right time, and will be perfectly happy with the media attention being focused on political intrigue and the phenomenal form of Iga Swiatek. With some online sports betting sites offering odds as long as 33-1, Pliskova is surely worth a small wager.
Krejcikova will bounce back
Pliskova’s compatriot Barbara Krejcikova left Roland Garros in tears last month, the 2021 champion having been unceremoniously bundled out in the first round. It’s the worst preparation imaginable for Wimbledon, but here’s a funny thing to keep in mind.
SW19 is no ordinary sports venue. It’s a place of magic, a place where miracles happen and dreams come true. If anyone needs a fairytale right now, it’s Krejcikova, and she might just be coming to the right place.