With Wimbledon 2023 just days away, is Aryna Sabalenka on the verge of Slam number two?
As grass court season rolls toward its regular but rather premature grand conclusion at SW19, the Belarusian looks to again take down the ever-dominant Iga Swiatek.
The 22-year-old Pole, fresh from winning her third French Open crown at Roland Garros arrives also with the US Open title in her pocket.
But with Australian Open honours in her own bag, Sabalenka is on the hunt at the All England Club.
Mission from Minsk
Having missed out on last year’s tournament due to a player ban over the on-going war in Ukraine, Sabalenka is driven.
The 25-year-old from Minsk was a semi-finalist in 2021 on her Wimbledon debut, taking like a duck to water.
Beaten by Karolina Pliskova in the last four 24 months ago, Sabalenka arrives having enjoyed a strong season.
Winning her maiden Slam title at Melbourne Park, she also reached the last four in Paris last month.
Sealing a second Madrid title in May, Sabalenka has form and real chances.
Arguably in better shape than her run to the semis’ two years back, a 5/1 punt with Betfred could look mighty shrewd come a fortnight Saturday.
As the Men’s Singles threatens to become a two-way scrap between the relentless Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz, the Ladies’ Draw looks far more competitive.
Aside from the irrepressible Swiatek, standing in the way of Sabalenka firstly, lies defending champion Elena Rybakina.
A surprise winner at SW19 last year, the Kazak bloomed on the grass and went three steps further than her previous best result of a last-eight berth at Roland Garros in 2021.
Now world no. 3, this year, Rybakina has two WTA 1000 titles to her name and was a losing finalist in Melbourne.
Her conqueror? One Aryna Sabalenka.
Ons Jabeur, meanwhile, also knows the feeling of final defeat and at the hands of Rybakina 12 months ago.
The Moroccan, still likely burning after throwing away a one-set lead on Centre Court that day, has also enjoyed success this term.
Picking up a fourth WTA title, Jabeur also became the first African woman to reach the last eight at Roland Garros in over 25 years.
Truly at home on grass, Jabeur was a 25/1 price to reach the final last year and is a shorter 14/1 for Wimbledon redemption here.
A longer shot, Caroline Garcia, like a fine French vintage has improved moving toward her thirties.
Semi-finalist at Flushing Meadows last September, the 29-year-old from the Parisian suburbs reached R4 in Australia.
Equaling her best performance at SW19 in 2022 at the same stage, having reached two finals this season, Garcia could go on a run here.
Indeed, in with a very good shot at Eastbourne also, at a 33/1 punt with Betfred, Garcia could do very well.