Aryna Sabalenka ‘not 100 per cent ready’ and says Wimbledon involvement in doubt

Aryna Sabalenka has cast doubt over her participation in this year’s Wimbledon two days out from her first-round match with Emina Bektas.

Two-time Australian Open champion Sabalenka has battled with different fitness issues in recent weeks, after she struggled with a stomach bug during a French Open quarter-final defeat to Mirra Andreeva before she had to retire in Berlin earlier this month with a shoulder injury.

The Belarusian revealed it took “five to six days” to get over her illness in Paris, but has now got to manage a rare shoulder problem called teres major, which primarily affects her serve.

Aryna Sabalenka practising at the All England Club
Sabalenka says she is not certain to play her Wimbledon opener because of injury (John Walton/PA)

Asked if she might not play Monday’s opener with Bektas on Court One, Sabalenka admitted: “There is always a chance, yeah.

“I’m not 100 per cent fit now. We’re doing everything we can with my team to make sure I’ll be able to play my first match here, but no, I’m not 100 per cent ready.

“I would say that’s something I have to figure out right now. If I’ll not figure out that, then I can only make things worse. I don’t want that. I don’t want to risk the rest of the season.

“As competitors, we’re not going to give up that easily. The last week, we’ve been really (doing) lots of different things, we’ve been trying. Yeah, I have another day, another day-and-a-half to try some more stuff and see where I am.

“I still have my hopes.”

World number one Iga Swiatek is in a different boat after taking time out since her fourth victory at Roland Garros on June 8, which included attending a Taylor Swift concert in Liverpool.

While Swiatek is the Queen of Clay, she has only made the quarter-finals on one occasion at the All England Club after success as a junior in SW19.

The draw has not been kind with a string of former grand-slam champions in the path of Swiatek, starting with Sofia Kenin in round one.

But Swiatek said with a smile: “Thanks for letting me know, but I’m not looking at the draw.

“I only know my first-round opponent and that’s all.

“I feel great, especially coming after such great tournaments. I’m glad that I have some time off. I had time also to practice in a solid way and not rush it.

“I’m happy that I came here early because there is a huge difference between the grass that we have in our own country for example and here.

“Day after day I felt like I’m getting more rhythm and I can really feel the ball better. I feel good.

“For sure we approached this year a little bit differently basically because of the amount of matches that I played in the first part of the season.

“I could probably squeeze in one more tournament before Wimbledon, but I don’t know if I would be able to physically be in a good shape till the end of the year. You kind of have to choose what’s better also for the future. I think that was smarter decision this year.”

Coco Gauff sits second in the WTA rankings but none of the top three have won Wimbledon before with seven different female champions over the last seven years.

The current US Open champion suffered a shock first-round exit in SW19 last year, but takes confidence from the open field.

“I actually was paying attention to that when I was looking at the champions’ wall they have at Aorangi,” Gauff explained.

“For me it just shows there’s a lot of talent on the women’s tour and it’s anybody’s game.

“It gives you confidence obviously when you see that the field isn’t stacked. I guess stacked in the way where there’s one player dominating or three players dominating.

“I think everybody has an equal shot and it’s just about who can perform better that week.”