By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday May 19, 2021
2021 is the year that Aryna Sabalenka learned to translate her dominant hard court game to the clay courts. The Belarusian took a 14-12 record on clay into the season and has since gone 11-2 on clay in 2021, with a title in Madrid and a final in Stuttgart.
Next question? Can Sabalenka prove herself on the Grand Slam stage at Roland-Garros?
Sabelenka owns a 14-13 record at the majors and has yet to reach the quarterfinals. For a high octane player with a ranking of No.4 in the world and in possession of ten career titles, it seems crazy, but we must keep in mind that Sabalenka is only 23 years old and still, in many ways, a work in progress.
Two-time Roland-Garros champion Jim Courier believes it is just a matter of time before Sabalenka breaks out on the big stage.
“I definitely think the breakthrough is coming,” he said. “She’s a player that has a little bit less margin for error than some of her peers. When she’s hot, she’s hot, she’s tough to stop. She moves well, rips the ball through the court.”
Courier adds that Sabalenka’s aggressive style is a good fit for the way the game on the clay these days.
“If you can get on the front foot on clay, depending on who you’re playing, you can really do damage to go behind them,” he said. “It’s a very good surface to play offensive tennis on, especially in this era when everyone has ample power given the equipment. I think she can be a real force. For me, it’s one of those scenarios where if she’s confident, she is tough for anybody to beat because she can cover the court and she can dominate from the center. I see no reason why she wouldn’t be able to break through that quarterfinal drought very quickly in Roland Garros, and if not there Wimbledon and the US Open.”