‘I just want to keep being open-minded’: Swiatek plays down the pressure ahead of her grass swing


New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) World No.1 Iga Swiatek admitted that she remains open-minded about her prospects at Wimbledon and still has to “learn a lot” before commencing her campaign on grass this summer.

Since the beginning of 2022, Swiatek has established herself as the dominant force on the WTA Tour, and she further solidified her position by clinching her fourth Grand Slam title at the French Open.

The 22-year-old, who won the Wimbledon junior title in 2018, has limited experience on grass, which is evident in her modest 6-5 win-loss record on the surface in main draw matches at the tour level. Her best Wimbledon result was a fourth-round showing in 2021.

As the Pole begins her 64th consecutive week as the world No.1 on Monday, she can approach the grass season with a reduced burden of pressure on her shoulders.

“Basically, before every grass-court season, I just want to keep being open-minded and just learn a lot. I feel like there is maybe a little bit less pressure, but on the other hand, when I just go on the court, I feel like I know how I can play tennis and I know how I can play on other surfaces.

“On grass sometimes it’s tougher and I still have to learn a lot, but I just feel like you’re going to go on court and not play the way you should or the way you could; so this thing is adding more pressure. But I would say that the pressure from the outside, yes it’s maybe a little bit less, it depends on you guys and what questions you ask,” Swiatek told Arab News.

Swiatek is scheduled to play in the WTA event in Bad Homburg, Germany, which begins on June 26, in a bid to get some extra time on the surface before heading to southwest London.

“Maybe there’s going to be a chance to play more matches. But I’m pretty sure that still when I’m going to play these matches, I’m going to feel a little bit uncomfortable. But I also trust that every year I’m going to learn more and more and I’m going to progress anyway. But it’s a short season, only three weeks, so the challenge is tough,” she said.

The Pole became world No. 1 in April 2022 following Ashleigh Barty’s retirement and this week she has equalled Simona Halep’s record, tying her for the 11th place on the WTA leaderboard for the most weeks spent at the top of the rankings.

In the previous season, Swiatek appeared to be unbeatable. However, she has not been as dominant this year as players like Australian Open winner Sabalenka and reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina have raised the bar and made a strong case for the emergence of a “Big Three” in women’s tennis.

“I would say at the beginning of the season this year I felt like in Australia I should play better as a world No.1 and reach further rounds, and it wasn’t easy for me back then to cut it out and just play the game of tennis and enjoy it.

“Last year, I didn’t really feel like I was being chased because I felt like all the things that are happening were so new that I was just focusing on achieving. That’s what I also tried to do after Australia this year and I think it’s working.

“Even though the difference in points is smaller (between myself and the world No.2), I feel like it’s a great achievement for me to keep a consistent level with all that pressure. Because there is pressure, and you can see it on social media and everything,” the four-time Grand Slam winner said.



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