Iga Swiatek embracing pressure of being French Open favourite

The world number one has won five successive tournaments and 28 straight matches

Iga Swiatek has been unstoppable on clay so far in 2022 (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)
Iga Swiatek has been unstoppable on clay so far in 2022 (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Iga Swiatek is hopeful she will be able to handle the pressure of being the overwhelming favourite to win the French Open for a second time.

When the Pole scythed through the draw in 2020 to claim her first grand slam title she was a largely unknown quantity but, 19 months on, Swiatek has established herself as the leading force in the women’s game following the shock retirement of Ashleigh Barty.

The 20-year-old goes into the year’s second grand slam having won her last five tournaments dating back to February, a winning streak lasting 28 matches, most of which have been straight sets.

Instead of viewing it in terms of the expectation on her shoulders, Swiatek is taking confidence from her form and appreciating what she has already achieved.

“I’m aware that this streak is something that may be coming to an end soon so I don’t want to be heartbroken when it’s going to happen,” she said. “I think being aware of that is pretty healthy.

“So I’m just going to again take it match by match, as I did on previous tournaments, and we’ll see. I don’t mind because I already have so many points and I’m pretty happy with the last tournaments. I think this season is already a success for me.

“It’s nice to remember what kind of goals I had at the beginning (of the season). So I’m not going to right now really be crazy and say that I’m only going to be happy if I win, because that’s not true.

“I proved to myself and to other people that I can be at the top of the game and before I wasn’t feeling that much confidence so this year I feel much more peace.

“I haven’t played a grand slam since the streak started so I guess we’re going to see if everything I have been doing before is going to be enough. But I have really positive thoughts.

“A couple of times during all these tournaments I was already stressed about that, and I was able to work through it and do a really good job by just focusing on tennis. So hopefully I’m going to be able to continue that.”

Swiatek, who will face a qualifier in the first round, is not trying to hide from her new status, and admitted: “I feel like with my new ranking, people around are treating me a little bit differently.

“So the world has changed, for sure. But I feel like I’m staying the same player and the same person. Still I feel like there is a lot to improve, so I think these are the main keys that this is my base that I’m leaning on.”

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