WTA Tour: The Top Rivalries for 2024

by Simon Zeitler
wta rivalry

The Top rivalries for 2024: WTA edition

The 2024 season is fully underway – time to look at the new (and old) rivalries going on. And first, we want to look into the WTA, where the field might be as leveled and open for surprises as ever. 

First – Captain Obvious, who is your No. 1?

I am well aware that this does not come as a surprise, but we have to cover the rivalry for World Number 1. Whilst there are changes in about every other position, the battle for the top spot remains the same: Iga Swiatek vs Aryna Sabalenka.

These two are quite a bit different but have asserted their dominance over an everchanging field in a similar way. For both of them the game is based on offense, but while the agile Swiatek also excels at defense and variety, Aryna Sabalenka usually overpowers her opponents and sometimes gets labeled a “one-trick pony”. But in all honesty, I think this doesn’t quite cut it for both players.

Iga is sometimes seen as a rather unspectacular player, that outlasts her opponents and defends well. But if you look closely, her 180+ km/h serves, a forehand which would challenge some men for spin and power and her solid net game, make her an offensive all-round weapon. She usually likes to dictate the point, and while it might not look as intimidating as Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek probably is the most well-rounded player on tour right now as we saw when winning her Indian Wells title.

She is a contender on about every surface and will surely add to her five Grand Slam titles.

Aryna Sabalenka on the other hand is a classic all-power player at first glance, similar to players like Serena in the past, who can hit harder than the rest and are not interested in any kind of longer exchanges. But ever since that Australian Open title run in 2023, she has added to her repertoire and plays a lot more intelligently.

Where in the past she would go for winners from about every position on court, Sabalenka has now implemented a lot more variation, dropshots and a decent net game. This, together with her additional confidence, has given her every right to challenge Swiatek’s number one spot.

The battle is on for 2024, Sabalenka comes off her second Slam title and great start, followed by a tragic personal episode. Swiatek has built her form continuously and seems like the clear-cut favorite on clay once more. Who will come out on top for year-end number one?

Or is it so obvious? Sabalenka – Gauff

sabalenka v gauff
Sabalenka vs Gauff

But hold on a minute – with the points of Madrid 2023 falling off the board, there is a new world No. 2 looming, and her name is no other than Coco Gauff

If there is any player, who can match Aryna’s power, then it is the young American with her ferocious serving and backhands. It seems like she has been on tour forever now, but she still is only 20 years old and just comes off her first Grand Slam victory.

Some say that it was her improvement on the forehand, others say she got stronger mentally, but whatever the case, the young Coco Gauff will surely be a contender for years to come.

And more often than not, she faces Aryna Sabalenka in defining matches, such as the Australian Open semifinal this year. Where other players seem overwhelmed with the intensity and pace of the Belarusian, it seems that Gauff soaks up this energy and turns it into power of her own. It will be intriguing to see, whether she can challenge the two current frontrunners in the WTA rankings in the long-run and make it a three women race.

The duel of the unlucky?

There are players, which have been present in big games for quite some time, are loved by their peers and undoubtedly have the talent to win Slams. But two WTA stars seem to be unlucky in the decisive games particularly, Ons Jabeur and Maria Sakkari.

Both have their individual history with finals in Slams and Masters – and while Sakkari and Jabeur now both have Masters titles to their names, they still miss Grand Slam honors.

Both of them have their very unique qualities, that are hardly matched by anyone on tour. For Maria Sakkari it is very clearly her physical ability. Noone on tour trains harder, looks more toned and can fight harder on court than the Greek. There are countless videos of her training in the gym, which most probably put most of the active ATP players to shame – plus she has worked on about every aspect of her game.

Ons Jabeur on the other hand is easily the most versatile player on tour, who can perform touch shots that we haven’t seen since Ash Barty in her prime. Her slice is nothing short of deadly, she attacks the net like a doubles pro and pulls off trick-shots, that we usually do not see in the women’s field. Add her solid serve and groundstrokes and you have a player, who can challenge anyone on any day, especially on the surfaces coming up – clay and grass.

But both share the same Achilles Heel – their mental game in particular. They have been in Slam (semi-)finals, Masters finals and matches against top players a lot of times. But they hardly have been able to pull off victories against the best in the game, with their Masters titles coming against other challengers.

So in order to change their luck in 2024, they first have to beat each other and then find a way past the current top players mentioned above. Do you think they can do it this year?

Who might I have missed?

I am sure that I have missed tons of players, that can form rivalries for years to come – but I am also interested in your ideas?

Who of the Czech wonder-girls will be the first to strike gold? Will the young Americans such as Navarro make a bigger splash on tour? And who will be the next Russian woman to carry on their legacy of great champions? I am beyond excited for Madrid and the remaining season to show!

You may also like


Ashley MacInnes April 26, 2024 - 00:44

How can you write this article without mentioning Rybakina. Five finals this year and already had a grand slam championship at Wimbledon? She has by far been the most dominant player this year overall and you didn’t even mention her in the article. I’m just not quite sure why.

sueyork April 27, 2024 - 05:04

where is Rybakina? are you serious?

Simon Zeitler April 30, 2024 - 17:14

Hi Ashley, Hi Sue,
Thanks for your feedback – and it’s totally valid. Of course Rybakina is one of the top players for 2024 :)
My goal for the article was the biggest rivalries, that involve players that either battle each other a lot, or face similar challenges. But I think that she has a good shot at the Madrid Masters and maybe even challenging Iga for No. 1.
Sorry for the confusion and thanks for reading it :)!


Leave a Comment