Iga Swiatek: The 21-year-old who could beat Serena Williams’ record winning streak



Swiatek, who turned 21 on Tuesday, won his first Grand Slam title two years ago at Roland Garros. Now, with a 32-game winning streak and the longest unbeaten streak on the women’s tour since Williams won 34 in a row in 2013, she is the favorite to win Roland Garros this year.

But the Polish star won’t let the pressure phase her.

“[T]there’s no point in thinking, ‘Oh, this streak is getting long. When will I lose? Or, I don’t know, is it even possible to win that many matches?” she told the WTA Insider podcast.

“I just don’t think about it. Honestly, I kind of believe the sky’s the limit and I can even move forward.

“That kind of attitude of just looking forward, not thinking about what’s already happened has really helped me because I also save energy by not doing that. I’m pretty proud of me,” she added.

Although it’s not always easy for Swiatek, whose winning streak was under threat at Roland Garros on Monday.

She beat Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen in the fourth round, but not before Zheng took a set against the world No. 1.
Swiatek plays a backhand against Zheng.

Zheng, 19, looked set for a major upset as she won the opener in a tiebreaker before Swiatek took control to win 6-7(5) 6-0 6-2 for his 32nd consecutive victory.

“It wasn’t easy to come up with solutions and find other tactics and do something differently, because I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong,” she said.

Swiatek began banding together in unorthodox ways, choosing to sing Dua Lipa in his head instead of focusing on the “technical stuff”.
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“It’s not the first time. I always sing something,” she revealed.

A family tradition

Sport runs through Swiatek’s family, with his father rowing for Poland at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

“I think we’re still focused on the job because of him, because he had high expectations that we were going to get good grades and we were going to have good practice,” she previously told CNN.

“Sometimes those expectations are not a good thing because they are a pressure for a child, but in my case I think it really helped me because I learned to be professional.

“My sister got injured when she was 15 and she stopped playing tennis, but she has a great brain and studies very well so I think we will both be successful.”

Swiatek’s dominance comes at a time when there is no clear challenger for his winning streak.

Ashleigh Barty, who dominated on all surfaces after winning Wimbledon, the French Open and the Australian Open, suddenly retired from tennis earlier this year aged 25.

A victory in the French capital would also make Swiatek the first woman to win six consecutive tournaments since Justine Henin did so between 2007 and 2008.

“I think the key is going to be to do the same thing as before. At the moment in these tournaments I have already faced a lot of pressure. So hopefully the different type of pressure that we have at a Grand Slam isn’t going to overwhelm me,” she told the WTA Insider podcast.

“But I try to accept that the streak ends one day. It’s physically and mentally difficult to keep doing the same job every week because we’re humans too.

“So I’m just going to try to find a bit more distance and treat the Grand Slam like any other tournament and maybe enjoy what’s going on a bit more – take advantage of the fact that we have a day of time off between games because here it was quite intense and I couldn’t even see Rome, so in Paris I hope it will be different.

Ben Church and Aimee Lewis contributed reporting.


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