Iga Swiatek: The Queen of Clay Eyes Another French Open Victory

With her all-round game and youth on her side, Iga Swiatek is poised to dominate the French Open for years to come. Already the favorite for this year's tournament, Swiatek aims to join the ranks of legendary players while staying humble and focused on her game strategy.

Reuters | Updated: 23-05-2024 14:32 IST | Created: 23-05-2024 14:32 IST
Iga Swiatek: The Queen of Clay Eyes Another French Open Victory

The big question ahead of the French Open is not whether Iga Swiatek will win the women's singles again but exactly how many times the Pole will lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen before she calls time on her career. It looks almost impossible for any player to come anywhere near Rafa Nadal's record 14 French Open titles but such is Swiatek's domination on clay that she already looks on course to threaten the women's title record at a single Grand Slam.

Still only 22, Swiatek is a massive favourite for this year's tournament where she could join a select group of players to have won the title at least four times in the professional era -- Chris Evert (7), Steffi Graf (6) and Justine Henin (4). Martin Navratilova holds the professional era women's record for triumphs at one of the four majors with nine Wimbledons.

With age on her side, and a all-round game that matches up on clay as well as Navratilova's did on grass, Swiatek certainly looks like dominating the Parisian dirt for years to come. Swiatek arrives in the French capital on the back of a 12-match winning streak on clay having rolled through Madrid and Rome and some are suggesting that the Roland Garros engraver might already start etching her name on the trophy.

But world number one Swiatek, bidding for a hat-trick of titles to go along with her maiden success in 2020, is not getting ahead of herself as she prepares for the year's second Grand Slam tournament. "Obviously I am confident. I feel like I'm playing great tennis. But it doesn't change the fact that I really want to stay humble and really focused on getting everything step by step. Grand Slams are different," she said in Rome after her win over world number two Aryna Sabalenka.

"There are seven hard matches that you need to win, so I don't take anything for granted. I'll just work hard as I did in Madrid and Rome and we'll see. "I'm number one so I'm the favourite everywhere if you look at rankings. But rankings don't play the matches."

The list of those with the capabilities to stop Swiatek is not a long one. Belarus's two-time Australian Open champion Sabalenka has emerged as her natural rival and held match points against her in the Madrid final this year before being outclassed in Rome.

While Sabalenka's power tennis is not as effective on the slippery dust, she certainly has the weapons to blast through any opponent on any surface when her game is hot. "Even though I lost these two finals, I never focus on the past. No matter how many times I lose to the player, I know anyway if I'll be there, if I'll be fighting, I'll be focusing on myself, I know that I can get that win," she said.

U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff reached the French Open final in 2022 and has proved she can adapt to clay while former Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has also showed form on clay and will expect to go deep in the draw. Tunisia's Ons Jabeur loves clay and has a box of tricks that can flummox any opponent although her form has not been great.

And with last year's runner-up Karolina Muchova out of contention this time after undergoing wrist surgery, all roads point to another Swiatek march to victory. "She incredible how she plays on clay at Roland Garros but also the way she handles the pressure she faces when she gets here," tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said.

"She has a special stage of mind there."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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