Chris Evert makes bold Iga Swiatek prediction ahead of Wimbledon

Shahida Jacobs
Chris Evert discusses Iga Swiatek's Wimbledon hopes
Chris Evert on Iga Swiatek's Wimbledon hopes

Chris Evert admits other players can “hurt” Iga Swiatek on grass, but the tennis great insists the world No 1 “can win Wimbledon this year” even if the Pole is slightly distracted by the 2024 Paris Games.

Swiatek is once again the top seed at Wimbledon and she is coming off yet another incredible clay-court season as she won the three biggest titles on the surface after lifting trophies at Roland Garros, Rome and Madrid.

The Pole, though, will start next week’s Grand Slam without any matches under her belt on grass this year as she opted to skip the Berlin Ladies’ Open following an extended campaign on clay.

And there is also the small matter of the Olympics after Wimbledon and 18-time major winner Evert admits Paris 2024 could have an impact on Swiatek’s performance at SW19.

“I think the three weeks in between the majors helps to a certain extent. It’s not only the French Open. You have to look at what Iga did before the French Open,” the American said during ESPN’s preview for the tournament.

“I could be wrong, but five or six tournaments, five tournaments on clay. Every time I turn on the Tennis Channel, she was out there playing. She played a lot of tournaments. I know she talked about how exhausted she was.

“There’s a letdown when you win the French Open, when you win a major. There’s a real letdown. There’s wear and tear on the body. You’re exhausted. You can’t just go right to grass three days later and start practicing. It’s almost like you need a week off just to get back on track. She pulled out of Berlin, I believe. She pulled out of a grass court tournament.

“In the back of her mind, she’s probably thinking about the Olympics.”

Iga Swiatek vs Coco Gauff vs Aryna Sabalenka vs Elena Rybakina: WTA ‘Big 4’ state of play ahead of Wimbledon

Wimbledon women’s singles draw: 5 most dangerous unseeded players – ft. Naomi Osaka, Emma Raducanu

The 5 women with the most grass-court match wins: Martina Navratilova No 1, Chris Evert third

Evert also concedes that Swiatek will struggle against big servers like Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina on grass while her effective sliding technique on clay doesn’t work on the “challenging” grass.

However, the three-time Wimbledon champion insists you cannot write Swiatek off as a challenger for the title.

She added: “I don’t know. I wonder where her head is right now as far as Wimbledon. It certainly is the most challenging of all the majors because of several things. Her sweet spot again is shoulder high where she hits her winners.

“Right now the grass courts bounce a little bit lower. She has to hit the ball between the ankle and the waist. With that western grip, it’s really hard to get underneath the ball and to get some shape on it.

“She doesn’t win a lot of free points with her serve, and that is going to hurt her as well. She’s the fastest player out there. I think she moves the best of any of the women. Coco [Gauff] and her are very, very even.

“The beauty of her game was the way she was sliding on the clay, then the way she got back into point, back into the court so well. That’s going to be hard to do also on grass.

“Again, it’s the most challenging. She’s just going to have to be a little more aggressive and try to get the first strike of the ball, like she does on every other surface.

“I just think grass is an equaliser for her. The other players, like Sabalenka, Rybakina, Coco, they’re going to feel like she doesn’t have a lot of confidence, she’s never done better than the quarter-finals, and she’s probably thinking about the Olympics.

“There’s nobody stronger than her mentally. There’s nobody stronger than her mentally. She has a great return of serve. I think she can win Wimbledon. I think she can. People who count her out this year are silly. I think she can win Wimbledon.

“Again, where is her head at? Is she thinking about the Olympics? Is she thinking about the red clay? Is she really gung-ho on Wimbledon? That remains to be seen. Right now her preparation isn’t that great if she’s not playing a tournament.”