World No.1 Iga Swiatek has admitted she is hoping to see Ash Barty and her newborn baby at the Australian Open after showering the former tennis player with lovely praise. Swiatek faced a tough first round challenge in the form of Sofia Kenin on Tuesday with the World No.1 up against the 2020 Australian Open winner.
And while the first set was super close, Swiatek showed she is in superb touch heading into her quest for her maiden Aus Open title having defeated the American in straight sets. After the match, Swiatek was pleased to have extended her winning run to 17 straight singles matches - which includes her form at the United Cup - and admitted Kenin was able to disrupt her rhythm.
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And the attention during the on-court interview soon turned to another former Australian Open champ and World No.1. Swiatek was asked about whether she had caught up with Barty since the beginning of the Open.
Swiatek took over the World No.1 ranking upon Barty's sudden retirement in 2022. She has since largely held the top spot in the women's game and always shared nice words for Barty having taken over the mantle.
And Swiatek once again shared some kind words for her former rival who was one of the players that inspired her to lift her game. "I am hoping to see her and see the baby. For sure, she changed a lot. She changed my mindset heading into 2022," Swiatek said on Rod Laver Arena.
"She really motivated me, it was not the only reason, but it was one of the reasons why I later became World No.1. Because I felt I had more variety because I practiced this kind of stuff to player against her, I am really grateful for her." Swiatek then joked to the Aussie audience that maybe she wouldn't currently be No.1 if Barty was still around, but there is no doubting Swiatek's credentials in the last two years.
Bartu retired after winning the Australian Open in 2022 and went on to marry her husband Garry Kissick and has since welcomed baby boy Hayden into their lives. And while Swiatek appears keen to catch-up with her former rival, she will be focused on her next opponent in American Danielle Collins.
Iga Swiatek ready for American challenge
Swiatek played plenty of warm-up matches leading into this year's Australian Open and it showed on court with the Polish star able to navigate the challenge of Kenin. "Tennis is a pretty tricky sport where with the draws you can play former champions, former world No.1s and really experienced players (early on)," Swiatek said.
"You never know, so you just have to be ready, no matter what." Despite being the No.1 seed, Swiatek's draw does not get any easier with former Australian Open finalist Collins setting-up a blockbuster round two clash.
Collings was able to overcome Angelique Kerber in a three-set thriller and showcased her brutal power to close out the match. Swiatek will need to play her best tennis against the American who has often played well on the slightly faster court at Melbourne Park.
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