US Open win persuades Iga Swiatek the ‘sky is the limit’ for tennis career
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Mats Wilander does not expect Iga Swiatek to dominate tennis in the manner Serena Williams did. Since Ash Barty’s shock retirement last March, the Pole has run rampant through the WTA Tour, collecting plenty of titles along the way.
In 2022, she enjoyed an incredible 37-match winning streak, the longest in the 21st century and became the world number one last April. She was the superior player at Grand Slam level as she claimed her second Wimbledon title and maiden crown at the US Open.
She has endured a difficult start to 2023, but is fancied to return to form and enjoy another strong season. And with fans keen to see how long the young star can sustain this period of success, Wilander made a prediction while referencing Williams, dubbed by many as the greatest player of all time – having won 23 Grand Slams and spent 319 weeks as the world No.1.
“I think kind of the other way of what people are saying,” the seven-time Grand Slam champion told Eurosport’s Arnold Montgault, began. “I think it’s great for Iga to not be carrying around this pressure of being this next (Steffi) Graf or Serena that’s going to just dominate on all the different surfaces.
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“Maybe she will struggle on the grass court, maybe struggle on a fast hard court, maybe against one style of player that can hit the ball hard.” Swiatek perhaps didn’t start 2023 the way she would have hoped, as Jessica Pegula soundly beat her at the United Cup as Team USA went on to win the inaugural event. Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina then sent her crashing out of the Australian Open in the fourth round.
She bounced back emphatically in Doha, winning the title without dropping a set and avenged her January defeat to Pegula in the final. But the WTA’s top star came unstuck against Barbora Krejcikova, who produced her best tennis to triumph 6-4, 6-2 in the Dubai Tennis Championships final.
Though Wilander thinks there might be a theme to these surprising defeats for Swiatek, he believes she has a very big future ahead of her. “I think the best thing for Swiatek is to be able to approach every surface, every match in the way that she always has, which is ‘it’s about Iga, but it’s also about my opponent, and I know that I’m one of the best players in the world, but nothing is taken for granted. I’ve got to show up’,” he added.
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“I think when she plays really well, we tend to think about things that are way too big for someone as young as Iga. She’s a great player, she’s a great champion, she’s going to win lots of Grand Slams in my book. But she’s a human.
“I think that she’s showing certain weaknesses in terms of mentality, certain frustrations, and if she doesn’t show that, she wouldn’t be the player that she is. So I think everything is very healthy for her. It’s just clear there’s a style of player that she will have to look out for on certain speed hard courts, and those players are very consistent and hit the ball very hard from both sides. That’s her worry.”
Swiatek will be in action over the next week at the Indian Wells Masters as she bids to defend her crown in the California desert. She is set to commence her campaign aganst America’s Claire Liu tomorrow.
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