Tennis-Swiatek braced for tougher path to third Paris title
She dropped only one set in the Paris fortnight in 2022, reclaiming the title that launched her career into the stratosphere in 2020 when she arrived unseeded but ended up becoming Poland's first Grand Slam singles champion. Swiatek crushed Coco Gauff in last year's final, part of a 37-match winning streak that eventually ended at Wimbledon.
Poland's Iga Swiatek dispensed any notion that she is primarily a claycourt specialist when she claimed her third Gland Slam title by winning last year's U.S. Open. But there is no disputing the red dirt is the perfect companion to her multi-faceted game and even less debate that Roland Garros remains her favourite playground.
Swiatek, who turns 22 during the first week of the French Open, will be the favourite for a third title in four years in Paris, although she might face some stiffer opposition this year than 12 months ago when she was simply unstoppable. She dropped only one set in the Paris fortnight in 2022, reclaiming the title that launched her career into the stratosphere in 2020 when she arrived unseeded but ended up becoming Poland's first Grand Slam singles champion.
Swiatek crushed Coco Gauff in last year's final, part of a 37-match winning streak that eventually ended at Wimbledon. This season has not exactly been shoddy by comparison, after all she has won two titles; on hard courts in Qatar and on clay in Stuttgart and reached two other finals.
But her rivals have clearly stepped up to the plate. Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina overpowered Swiatek in the India Wells semi-final while Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka beat Swiatek on clay in the Madrid final, albeit in faster conditions than are usually found in Paris.
Swiatek has also been troubled by a right thigh injury that flared up in Rome where she retired during the third set of a quarter-final scrap with Rybakina. She has given optimistic updates on that injury and will be desperate to be firing on all cylinders in Paris. Organisers and fans alike will certainly hope so, because Swiatek in full flow on clay is quite a spectacle.
Blessed with one of the most destructive forehands in the women's game (think German great Steffi Graf's but with more spin), Swiatek is also a master tactician who appears to have umpteen solutions to any puzzle on a clay court. Her mental fortitude is also proven, with Warsaw native Swiatek able to thrive under pressure, a result of her work with sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz.
So while the challengers have thrown down the gauntlet for what promises to be an enthralling women's tournament, Swiatek will not be losing too much sleep about them. "I know that there are players that are more solid throughout the whole season. You can see that from rankings, also from how they play," she said in Rome recently.
"I'm more focused on myself. I don't really look at other players that are playing well. Doesn't really make much sense for me to over-analyse that."
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)