Mumbai: It was merely three weeks ago when Iga Swiatek further cemented her status as the finest player of her generation. She dominated her way to a third successive French Open triumph after an early scare in the tournament. At just 23, she had claimed her fourth Roland Garros title and fifth Grand Slam overall.

Poland’s Iga Swiatek plays a volley on the practice court at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club ahead of Wimbledon. (AP)

Given her 3500-point lead at the top of the rankings and an astonishing 45-4 win-loss record this year, one would imagine Swiatek being the favourite for Wimbledon. That, however, isn’t quite the case.

Grass, of course, stands out among the three surfaces in the sport. Not only does the slippery nature of it demand the most adjustments from players, the one Major played on it also has the shortest build-up. And when it comes to the women’s singles event at Wimbledon, the previous 10 editions produced remarkable results as nine different champions emerged.

But these aren’t the only reasons why Swiatek isn’t the clear-cut favourite for the All England title. Her record on the surface also has a lot to do with it.

The Pole’s best result at Wimbledon came last year when she reached the quarter-finals. She had lost in the third and fourth rounds respectively in the two years before that. Her career record on grass stands at 16 wins and seven losses, and her decision to not compete in any build-up tournament after her Paris success could prove to be costly too.

There’s no denying the fact that Swiatek has the skills to excel on grass. She won the junior Wimbledon title in 2018 and possesses that quick-footed game that the surface demands. A lot could come down to maintaining the belief, which she has in abundance.

“I deeply believe that the best players, they can play on all surfaces,” said the world No.1. “I want to kind of become that kind of player who can play well on grass as well and feel comfortable there.”

Swiatek will have her task cut out, though, as she’s been dealt quite a brutal draw. She will face 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the opening round, with defending champion Marketa Vondrousova, 2022 winner Elena Rybakina, two-time runner-up Ons Jabeur, and world No.5 Jessica Pegula, who just won a grass title in Berlin, all in her half of the draw.

Second-ranked Coco Gauff has a relatively more conformable path to the final, with world No.3 Aryna Sabalenka and Russian’s teen sensation Mirra Andreeva, who reached the French Open semi-finals, in the mix. Gauff was knocked out in the first round at Wimbledon last year, but the 20-year-old is a far more confident player now after winning her first Major title in New York last year.

“Coco Gauff is a great player,” American tennis legend John McEnroe was quoted as saying by Tennis World USA. “She’s got the Major and knows how to play on grass. She’s more comfortable on it than Iga Swiatek is. That doesn’t mean Iga isn’t going to figure something out, but she’s more vulnerable on grass than any other surface. It opens the door for some other players.”

Sabalenka and Rybakina remain contenders as well. After winning her second successive Australian Open title earlier this year, Sabalenka suffered from a stomach ailment during her quarter-final defeat at the French Open. In Berlin last week, a shoulder injury forced her to withdraw from a match for the first time in her career. But she’ll be hopeful her powerful game enables a deep run at Wimbledon, where she reached the semi-finals in 2021 and 2023.

Rybakina, too, lost in the French Open quarter-finals and withdrew from her last eight match in Berlin. She has the experience of going all the way at Wimbledon, though, and will take confidence from the three titles she has won this year.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka will also be one to keep an eye on. Although she’s never gone past the third round at Wimbledon, she’s looked increasingly impressive since making a comeback on the tour, as was apparent during the French Open where she nearly knocked out Swiatek in the second round.