Iga Swiatek, Voted a Fan Favorite, Turns to the Finals


Iga Swiatek likes Legos and lengthy books. Both assist hold her mentally sharp for the grueling matches she performs on the WTA Tour.

While quarantined in her resort room for 2 weeks earlier than the Australian Open in February, Swiatek, 20, accomplished the contents of two big Lego containers that she carried from her dwelling in Poland. When she started competing at the United States Open in August, she was three weeks into studying “Gone with the Wind,” a lengthy American basic.

A yr in the past, after surprising the sport by profitable the French Open with out dropping a set (she misplaced simply 28 video games in seven matches), Swiatek grew to become the lowest-ranked lady, at No. 54, to win the title. She was additionally the first participant from Poland to seize a main and the youngest lady to win at Roland-Garros since then-18-year-old Monica Seles in 1992.

Swiatek certified for her first WTA Finals, the eight-woman championship, final yr, however the occasion was canceled due to the pandemic. A yr later, after profitable the Adelaide International and Italian Open and reaching No. 4 in the world in September, Swiatek, now ranked No. 10, has certified once more.

The following dialog has been edited and condensed.

How disillusioned had been you when final yr’s finals was canceled?

I wouldn’t say that I used to be disillusioned as a result of final yr was fairly difficult for me. I used to be blissful that Roland-Garros was the final event as a result of I might find out how to take care of all the new actuality and new obligations. And it wouldn’t have been honest [to contest the finals] since there have been so few tournaments and lots of gamers didn’t play. I do know that the Covid state of affairs and the break that we had on tour most likely helped me a lot. I don’t know if I’d have had the similar success if we didn’t have Covid.

When you had been a little woman, did you ever think about being amongst the Elite Eight?

I by no means considered it as a result of there are such a lot of different gamers with nice expertise. But after I received Roland-Garros I had the feeling that something might occur in tennis proper now.

In Guadalajara, you can be taking part in with pressureless tennis balls to fight the results of the 5,000-foot altitude. How will you modify?

I do not know. I’ve to do this. I performed in Madrid (about 2,100 toes) for the first time this yr, and my photographs had been flying like loopy. So we made some changes, and by the finish I performed actually strong tennis. Guadalajara goes to be even worse, so I really want to get used to the circumstances.

In Indian Wells you had the likelihood to go to with Andy Murray, and now you need to apply with him. What would you like to study?

I instructed him we must always apply on grass as a result of, though I reached the fourth spherical at Wimbledon this yr, I really feel like each day may be difficult on grass, and I would like some extra energy and extra expertise to be strong there.

You had been voted the WTA’s fan favourite in your drop shot and your singles play. What did that imply to you?

It meant a lot as a result of when I’ve a laborious time discovering the motivation to apply I at all times do not forget that tennis is leisure. I like taking part in in stadiums, particularly after I win, and I like the help I get from folks.

You just lately donated $50,000 in help of World Mental Health Day. What have you ever discovered about your self and your individual psychological wellness after touring for thus a few years with your individual sports activities psychologist?

It’s laborious to separate what I’ve discovered from the new experiences I’ve had and from simply rising up. When I received Roland-Garros I used to be 19, and that’s a interval of life while you study a lot about your self even while you’re not an athlete. I really feel like there’s a fairly loopy combine between my private and work life as a result of being an athlete is a 24-hour job. But I wouldn’t change this expertise for something as a result of I feel it gave me a lot of data about myself and knowledge that I can use later in life.