Misc Tennis

I Can Succeed on Clay

Rybakina, Putintseva Lead Kazakhstani Charge in Miami


By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Thursday, April 18, 2024
Elena Rybakina celebrated her return to clay getting her feet dirty.

Rybakina rapped her Yonex racquet off the sole of her shoe to free some clotted clay caught in her treads.

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Then Rybakina put her foot down edging former Charleston champion Veronika Kudermetova 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-4 to reach the Stuttgart quarterfinals today.

World No. 4 Rybakina continued her strong start to the season, improving to 23-4.

It is Rybakina’s 38th career clay win and sends her into tomorrow’s quarterfinals against Dubai champion Jasmine Paolini..

Though the 2022 Wimbledon winner has thrived on faster surfaces, Rybakina has shown the skill to adapt her power-based baseline game to dirt.

Two of Rybakina’s seven career titles have come on clay, including her run to the 2023 Rome championship.

Rybakina says if she can get sufficient match play on dirt, she will be a contender again in Rome and at Roland Garros next month.

“I always believed that I can play good on clay,” Rybakina told the media in Stuttgart today. “My actually first win on the WTA was on clay.

“It’s just the season is quite short, and of course me, for example, I need a bit more time to get used, to adapt, to play some matches. But overall I think that I can play well on all the surfaces.

“Last year it was great tournament in Rome, and then French Open, I actually feel also well there. I like the courts. It’s just I was unlucky with sickness, so I think I’m doing pretty well for now.”

Should Rybakina prevail over Paolini tomorrow, she would have a Grand Slam champion in the semifinals, either world No. 1 Iga Swiatek or former US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

The 2023 Australian Open runner-up Rybakina has beaten Swiatek in three of five meetings, including in Rome last May when the world No. 1 retired from their quarterfinal deadlocked 2-all in the final set.

The good news for Rybakina is she says she’s feeling fit and put in a week of practice on the dirt. Rybakina said playing with patience and accepting the fact her heavy serves will come back more often on clay are key elements to her success on the slower surface.

“I would say that physically I’m feeling fine,” Rybakina said. “It’s just a question of playing matches and just to switch your mentality and game plan for longer rallies and also serves. For example, I cannot always hit an ace and get free points, so it’s…

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