In the ultimate week of final season, Iga Swiatek’s reward for a strong 12 months was a spot among the many absolute best on the WTA Finals in Guadalajara. After the highs of profitable the French Open late in 2020 and the changes she made as her complete world modified, Swiatek had loved a superb full season as a champion. However in Mexico she struggled badly. Swiatek misplaced her first two matches, shortly exiting the occasion within the group phases.
Again then, it nonetheless felt just like the enhancements wanted for her to command the laborious courts as she had accomplished clay would take a while. As a substitute, virtually a 12 months later, she is a distinct participant.
Swiatek began the season with an sudden run to the Australian Open semi-finals and he or she has now received 4 titles on laborious courts this 12 months alone: three WTA 1000 titles and her first US Open title on Saturday.
The advances she has made are notably notable when evaluating the title she received in New York on Saturday together with her first, two years in the past. In October 2020, Swiatek burst into the highlight by taking part in at her damaging finest for 2 weeks of the autumn French Open, commanding an absurdly excessive degree from begin to end. She misplaced simply 28 video games on her method to the title – and never a single set.
However whereas that match demonstrated the greatness she was able to when circumstances have been beneficial and confidence was excessive, it mentioned little about the important thing qualities required to be a serial winner. These weeks of taking part in your finest tennis, when every part is flowing, are uncommon; the best champions are simply as proficient at grinding out wins when not at their finest. Her time in New York this 12 months has been a transparent instance of the latter.
One of many dominant themes heading into the US Open was the lighter balls used on the match for ladies’s matches, virtually fully due to Swiatek’s complaints about them. She mentioned that whereas she feels good on clay, she nonetheless didn’t have full religion in herself on the US Open.
Her success, then, rested on accepting that she would make extra errors, that on the quicker surfaces she needed to take extra dangers earlier within the level. She knew that doubts would proceed to comply with her on this floor and there was little she may do about it.
“I’m the form of one who just isn’t but trusting myself,” she mentioned. “I really feel like I belief myself for positive on clay, and perhaps additionally different surfaces. Right here I simply attempt to settle for perhaps that typically I’m not going to belief myself.”
Swiatek didn’t at all times play effectively in New York, however she at all times tailored. She struggled badly in her fourth-round match till the center of the second set, trailing by a set and a break to Jule Niemeier, however she minimize out errors within the essential moments and received.
After discovering herself 4-2 all the way down to Aryna Sabalenka within the third set of her semi-final, Swiatek hit only one unforced error for the remainder of the match.
However her sport can also be superior technically. The stress that her mixed defensive and offensive capability imposes on her opposition is evident. She flits across the courtroom, sliding into pictures in open stance, her athleticism and defence supreme. Not solely does she defend with depth and spin, she regularly forces opponents to take larger dangers. In the event that they don’t, she’s going to smother them together with her groundstrokes, which simply so occur to be greater than these of just about another opponent.
Regardless of a season of dominance, essentially the most ominous thought for Swiatek’s opponents is that she will nonetheless enhance. She will be able to refine her serve, each by turning into extra exact together with her first serve to supply free factors and fortifying her second. Swiatek can even grow to be much more proficient on the web.
One other massive change in her sport is how she has come to grasp the assorted choices at her disposal, and the way each presents a distinct resolution.
Since hiring her coach, Tomasz Wiktorowski, through the low season, tournaments have come quick. They haven’t but had time to spend an extended coaching block engaged on her sport with out the stress of an looming competitors. The extra she continues to widen her skillset, the more durable she shall be to defeat.
“Profitable the US Open is completely different than profitable a slam in Europe or in Australia as a result of I don’t know the way the recognition factor goes to vary, if it’s going to vary,” she mentioned after Saturday’s triumph. “For now I’m form of going to look at and study.”
Swiatek has many qualities that make her an absorbing character off the courtroom. She is unfailingly sincere, honest and endearing. She can also be introverted and understated. She retains her cap low in public and her profile even decrease.
However whereas she might not instantly command consideration, profitable massive tournaments and dominating for an extended interval is the one publicity she wants. At 21 years outdated, Swiatek is already a three-times grand slam champion. She is within the closing months of a season that solely Serena Williams has bettered over the previous 15 years. The tour should sustain together with her or danger being left behind – and the remainder of the world will quickly come to know her title.