News : Tennis: Iga Swiatek convinces again at the French Open – Sport
Iga Swiatek has mastered the game, of course, she is 20 and a young woman of the Internet generation. So: on your mobile phone, enter your name, scan the hits and: comment! On Monday, late at night, she read a special message: “Love watching @iga_swiatek” with a red heart behind it. The great Andy Murray, not only an authority in world tennis, but also one of the most passionate promoters of women’s tennis, had contacted Twitter. Andy Roddick, formerly one of the best tennis professionals, replied: “Agree. She is wonderful.” Swiatek? Completed the exchange with sincere thanks to both of them. Two hours later, after midnight, she remembered: “Thank you, Sir Andy! Do you happen to have time for a workout? I urgently need to improve my lawn skills.” Behind it the emoji of a monkey, who ashamedly keeps his eyes closed.
Fun, all of that. But of course he also tells a lot about the young Polish woman who is actually preparing for her second coup at this French Open. She has already reached the quarter-finals in a sovereign way, on Monday evening, across the year in Paris, she won sets 21 and 22 in a row, 6: 3, 6: 4 against the 18-year-old Ukrainian Marta Kostjuk. It really looks like the path to the title only led through Swiatek, number eight in the world, defending champion and interpreter of a new, aggressive, varied style. “After all the victories, I thought it was going to be much, much harder,” she said, rightly and confidently, at the press conference, “but I feel ready.”
She can do that too. Swiatek has managed the transformation from the almost unknown outsider to the notable favorite. It is the constant even in a wildly mixed-up women’s tableau. She is the only top ten player who is still fighting for victory in the most important clay court tournament – and now the favorite against the Greek Maria Sakkari in the round of the last eight.
Mind work is as important as practicing forehand and backhand, says Iga Swiatek’s sports psychologist
Swiatek sets an example of the direction in which women’s tennis is developing, she is well trained, fit, professionally looked after, in all areas. Perhaps the drama about Naomi Osaka would not have come about if the Japanese had brought mental help into the team. The former sailor Daria Abramovicz, who looks after many top athletes in Poland, was already at Swiatek’s side in the autumn. They see it as being as relevant as practicing forehand and serve. In the SZ interview, the sports psychologist once said how inquisitive Swiatek and want to exploit every opportunity for improvement.
Training on grass once with Andy Murray, the two-time Wimbledon winner, is therefore not a PR gag for her. Swiatek immediately recognized a teacher who knows a lot. Her question was very pragmatic and selfish. In addition: cheek wins, so she asked directly (with her idol Rafael Nadal she could already hit Paris a few balls). The tennis world knew for a long time that she had enough courage, and not just for such actions. All you have to do is watch them play. Her baseline strokes often twitch as fast as if she were swinging a fly swatter. And bang! Caught! She stresses her opponents with rhythm changes, long, short, cross, longline, suddenly a stop. The brave Kostjuk looked annoyed. The red heart of Murray, the tennis aficionado, has its place.
In the final sprint of the tournament, Swiatek is undoubtedly the most prominent player, but even without other big names, the individual competition is extremely interesting. On the one hand, a further development of women’s tennis can be seen, creativity is experiencing a renaissance, positional play is changing, many are closer to the baseline, which accelerates the pace. On the other hand, players have bite through, each of them carrying loads in their own way and defying resistance. Barbora Krejcikova confessed after her 6-2, 6-0 round of 16 victory that she had withdrawn in the physio room before the match and called her psychologist. “It was just the fear of failing, of not having a chance against Sloane Stephens,” said the 25-year-old. She defeated the demon.
In the quarter-finals she meets Cori Gauff. The 17-year-old grew up with the attribute of a child prodigy, and after her rapid ascent – she won the WTA tournament in Linz in 2019 – and a slight stagnation, she developed new momentum. She has added irrepressible fighting spirit to her talent. Even before Paris, she won in Parma. Her luck too: In Father Corey, she has a prudent carer at her side, alongside Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ trainer, who also coaches her. Gauff’s game has matured, and yet she has also retained her carefreeness. In any case, she has been leading up to the Uno card game against her parents, she said cheerfully these days.
Tamara Zidansek, 25, has already reached her first Grand Slam semi-final, after a 7: 5, 4: 6, 8: 6 tremor on Tuesday against the Spaniard Paula Badosa, 23. A Slovenian has never come so far, after the last sixteen she had already told how she was overwhelmed with news from home. Suddenly she is the ambassador of a whole country with two million inhabitants. By the way, Zidansek also works with a mental coach. It was worth it. She has never been in the third round of a Grand Slam before. And Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 29, is also experiencing a premiere. After 6: 7 (2), 6: 2, 9: 7 against Kazakh Jelena Rybakina, 21, the Russian is in the semifinals for the first time. Murray got in touch that evening and said on Twitter that Swiatek could play with him “anytime”. Just be careful with him – “I’m a bit old and fragile now”. The Scot just knows what woman power is.