In a disappointing turn of events, Iga Swiatek, the two-time defending champion at the Italian Open, was forced to retire during her quarter-final match against Elena Rybakina due to a right thigh injury. The match was evenly poised at 2-2 in the third set when the top-ranked Swiatek made the difficult decision to withdraw after more than two hours of intense play.
After comfortably winning the first set 6-2, Swiatek faced a tough challenge from Rybakina, who claimed the second set 7-6 (7-3).
Swiatek’s retirement raises concerns about her readiness for the upcoming French Open, where she is the defending champion and has been dominant in recent years. With just 10 days remaining until the tournament begins, her participation hangs in the balance.
Taking to Twitter, Swiatek provided a brief update, stating that she would take a couple of days off and proceed with booking her flight to Paris. She expressed hope and crossed her fingers, indicating her desire to recover in time for the prestigious event.
Nonetheless, her status remains uncertain. Despite being the title favorite, her withdrawal has narrowed the gap between her and other top contenders like Aryna Sabalenka and Rybakina, who have both surpassed her in the 2023 standings.
Sabalenka, in particular, holds the potential to claim the world number one spot if she secures the French Open title, adding further intrigue to the highly anticipated tournament.