Commentators question Iga Swiatek move after French Open scare

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Pictured left, Iga Swiatek emerged for the second set with a notebook in hand during her French Open fourth round win.
Iga Swiatek emerged for the second set with a notebook in hand and as a completely different player at the French Open. Pic: Eurosport/Getty

What was written down in Iga Swiatek's notebook during her French Open round of 16 victory? It's the question that had a number of tennis commentators scratching their heads.

Swiatek dropped a set for the first time in more than a month but stayed on course for the French Open title by beating teenager Zheng Qinwen.

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There was some doubt that the seemingly unstoppable World No.1 was going to extend her winning streak to 32 matches when Zheng snatched the first set despite trailing 5-2.

The 19-year-old from China was also 5-2 down in the tie-break, but reeled off five consecutive points to claim the opening stanza.

From there, however, it was all Swiatek as the Pole cemented her status as the player to beat at Roland Garros by romping through the next two sets to claim victory.

Analysing the match for Eurosport, former men's stars Mats Wilander and Tim Henman noticed that when Swiatek emerged from the break between first and second sets, she was carrying a notebook with her onto court.

The tennis experts also noticed that the Pole re-emerged for the second set as a completely different player, prompting questions about what the notebook contained.

Wilander said: “I’m guessing because she hadn’t played her before there wasn’t a whole lot of information apart from what she watched on video, so most probably it was more about encouragement, how to stay in the moment, like meditation and breathing.

“I am assuming it has more to do with her than her opponent.”

Henman added: “Whatever was in the notebook, Swiatek kept her cool.

“She looked a little frustrated at times, there was the dialogue with the box and that is unusual, but she really knuckled down, got the second set and maintained the momentum.

“When she has won so many good matches it’s good to have frustration to give her something to work on to build for the next round.”

Dua Lipa helped inspire Iga Swiatek

Speaking about her fightback after the match, Swiatek did not touch on the mysterious notebook, but she did admit that singing to herself helped get the 2020 French Open champion back on track.

"I was singing in my mind," Swiatek told reporters after the match.

"I realised in the first set when I was really focusing on that technical stuff, it didn't really work.

"I got more and more tense when I couldn't do that and I couldn't really prepare to the shot the best way.

"It was Dua Lipa, so kind of a guilty pleasure."

Seen here, Poland's Iga Swiatek talks to the media after her fourth round win at the French Open.
Poland's Iga Swiatek talks to the media after defeating Chinia's Qinwen Zheng in the fourth round of the French Open. Pic: Getty

Swiatek admitted she was caught by surprise by her enterprising opponent, who is just a year younger than the Pole.

“She’s playing amazing tennis, I’ve never had chance to play her before and I was surprised by some of her shots.

“Huge congrats to her. I’m pretty happy I could come back from a frustrating first set and I’m proud of myself that I’m still in the tournament.

“The quarter-final is such a stressful round so hopefully I can loosen up.”

Iga Swiatek to meet Jessica Pegula in last eight

Swiatek will face American 11th seed Jessica Pegula, who beat Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 4-6 6-2 6-3, in the last eight.

Zheng took a medical timeout at the start of the second set and re-emerged with her thigh heavily bandaged, eventually falling to a 6-7 (5) 6-0 6-2 defeat.

However, in a frank post-match press conference, Zheng revealed it was not the injury which hampered her chances.

“It’s before the match already. Girls’ things,” she said. “It’s a pity that I couldn’t give that what I wanted to give today.

“I just want next time I play against her I have like perfect shape and go for next fight.

“It’s just girls’ things, you know? The first day is always so tough and then, you know, I have to do sport and I always have so much pain in the first day. And I couldn’t go against my nature.

“I wish I could be a man on court, but I cannot. In that moment when I say, I really wish I could be a man that I don’t have to suffer from this. It’s tough, yeah.”

with agencies

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