French defence next for young star Swiatek

·2-min read

Iga Swiatek has added consistency to her game and a Rome title since her breakthrough French Open victory last year, giving her a massive boost ahead of her Roland Garros title defence.

Swiatek went from being a largely unknown teenager to acquiring celebrity status when she won the claycourt grand slam in October.

In doing so she became Poland's first grand-slam singles champion and the youngest woman to win the title since Monica Seles in 1992 and the first to do so without dropping a set since Justine Henin in 2007.

Less than eight months later the next edition of the claycourt major kicks off on Sunday, a day before Swiatek celebrates leaving her teenage years behind her.

"When you win a grand slam everybody will always remember that you won a grand slam," she told the BBC this week. "I don't think of it like I have to defend the trophy and win the French Open because what I did is always going to be with me."

The Pole's audacious shot-making ability makes her pretty much unstoppable when in full flow. Glimpses of a similar, punishing Swiatek was on display in Rome when she humiliated former world No.1 Karolina Pliskova 6-0 6-0 in the final.

The result backed up her expectations of being a "perfectionist" but having full-time psychologist Daria Abramowicz in her team has also taught Swiatek how to deal with the highs and lows of being a professional player.

"I have trouble myself to accept many things," she told the WTA. "But for sure, working with a psychologist and having that kind of support in every tournament helped me a lot because people tend to lose the proper perspective.

"I'm looking at things through my emotions a lot of times. So it's good to have someone that's going to keep you on Earth and someone you trust that can always tell the truth."

Learning how to deal with the business aspects of the sport and keeping up with media obligations since becoming a grand slam winner has not been easy but Swiatek has not allowed that to have much impact on her game.

From a ranking of 54th at the start of the 2020 French Open, Swiatek has steadily climbed to a career-best ranking of ninth, picking up a WTA 500 title in Adelaide and a WTA 1000 win in Rome on the way up.

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