Are you surprised that at the age of 20 Iga Świątek has become the new leader in the WTA rankings?
Quentin Moinet, L’Equipe: I’m not surprised by this in part. I’m here because it happened faster than expected. Without the sudden decision to quit, Ashleigh Barty wouldn’t be number one yet. But I wasn’t surprised because we knew how unique Iga is. I first saw her during Roland Garros 2019. She was very young, but she really had something special about her. The way you hit the ball was great. He’s been looking really good since the start of 2022. He deserves to lead the rankings.
Jaroslav Blasil, Radio Czech: I’m not surprised that Iga topped the rankings after Ashleigh Barty’s resignation. Iga is currently the best tennis player on the tour. I saw it up close in the Czech Republic in the summer of 2020 during the pandemic. I thought then that he could be a hit and today that scenario is starting to emerge.
Luca Fiorino, SuperTennisTv: Had I been told a few months before Ashleigh Barty’s resignation that Iga would be the leader, I would have been surprised. But I would be surprised at the very moment a pioneering change of arrangement occurs. I think Iga deserves more than anyone else to replace Barty. Since I first saw her on the court a few years ago, I was instantly fascinated by her skills and knew she would soon be in the top ten of the standings.
George Belshaw, Love Tennis Podcast, formerly known as the British “Metro”: I am not surprised considering the quality of the Iga Świątek. She’s always had talent, and it was just about finding that level of consistency in the game. He’s in absurdly good shape at the moment and the only disappointment of the season was the defeat to Daniel Collins in the Australian Open semi-finals, an oddly poor performance. However, she did a great job at it, and even if Ashleigh Barty was still an active player, I think Iga would finish season number one.
Bastien Vacan, independent tennis player from France: I’m not surprised, because Iga regularly advances, although it has not yet been tested in all the major leagues. Of course, Barty’s resignation is significant, but it is possible that Ega would still be number one in the world without her.
What distinguishes Iga Świątek today from other young tennis stars?
Quentin Moinet: Now it is only better! She hits more than other girls, she is more aggressive. Iga would probably be the best tennis player returning on the tour today – what she did against Madison Keys in the Indian Wells quarterfinals was out of this world. It moves well. It’s so complete, frankly it’s almost flawless. Confidence helps, of course, and she now has a lot of it.
Yaroslav Plasil: Iga has already gone through a much more difficult period, which usually happens to every young rider on a tour after their first big success. She had to make friends under pressure, with her own expectations. It seems she did it very quickly. It is very useful to her. She seems to be doing particularly well in the finals which is a nice feature for her.
Luca Fiorino: Iga has many arguments and her tennis is complete. He can attack and defend himself at the same time, in the attack phase. Compared to other players, he has an unusual hand and more variants of how the movement is played.
George Belshaw: She has tremendous strength, but also great technique and versatility in the game. However, what distinguishes tennis players is above all self-confidence, which Swiatek now enjoys a lot. There is nothing to fear, and this may just be the beginning of a long period of dominance.
Bastian Fakshan: What distinguishes Iga Świątek from other young tennis players is consistency. He has been playing regularly in tournaments since the start of 2022 and has a streak of 17 consecutive victories. It beats players with lower numbers, who are required to excel. She’s perfect on the big stage – I mean the tournament finals where she’s almost undefeated.
The past weeks have been Iga Świątek’s life form. In your opinion, what has changed in her game, where did these good results come from?
Quentin Moinet: Iga made a decisive decision to change coach after five years of cooperation with Piotr Sierzputowski. Her new coach, Tomas Wiktorowski, asked her to be more aggressive. She wasn’t convinced at first, but eventually accepted it, and today it’s working really well. She controls every point, which helps her a lot on tough pitches.
Previously, Iga did not have much self-confidence on hard surfaces. She considered herself a professional clay court player. On the meal, she could have been less aggressive and still win, which, however, didn’t work well on the hard court. This is perhaps the biggest change. IgA also changed on an emotional level. Her work with a psychiatrist seems to be going well. In Indian Wells, she said she was very hard on herself when she lost, questioning her whole life and career every time. It’s already over. Today focus more on the present.
Yaroslav Plasil: Iga is quieter. I had the chance to be in the Australian Open 2021. I saw Iga and compared to the current situation I felt it was a lot more tense at the time. Now she looks more natural and more relaxed. Iga has an advantage with great physical conditions, she moves very well, which affects the quality of her defensive game. He is able to attack very quickly. The moderately slow and fast surfaces are hard to beat. There, Iga has plenty of time for her hits.
Luca Fiorino: I just think it’s all “clicked” with her now. And as Barty finishes her career, Ega becomes more aware of her abilities. I managed to translate the desire to compete and the desire to win on the court to an excellent level consequences. I can see that she is more aggressive towards the game and has the drive to show how strong she is. Wins help to achieve more victories.
George Belshaw: Little has changed in her game. World-class tennis is all about performing on a regular basis and making sure you can show your full potential every week. Now the fear factor will radiate around the tour, especially from the way he defeated Iga Osaka, who has always been a hard-court player.
Bastian Fakshan: She has learned to trust her punches and be more aggressive. The game is as if it had nothing to lose, and was not held back by any form of pressure. Its gameplay is enough for 99% of the players in the round and they are fully aware of that now.
How do you rate Iga Świątek’s chances of retaining the number one position in the world for a longer period? Can you dominate women’s tennis like Ashleigh Barty, ex Serena Williams, Martina Hingis or Justin Henin?
Quentin Moinet: It’s hard to judge, but the clay season should be the best for her, so…she’ll be a favorite in every clay tournament, including Roland Garros. Let’s see how he deals with it. Let’s see if Osaka manages to get back to its best all year round. Without Barty, there is no reason why Iga can’t stay on top for long.
Yaroslav Plasil: I think Iga has a good chance of retaining first place this year. She’s strong on clay and there aren’t a lot of points to defend in the second part of the season. However, discussion of long-term dominance is premature. Barty was less comfortable with her opponents’ style of play. Usually everything changes quickly in the WTA competitions. Some of the tennis players who could threaten Iga are not like that today or have been injured. This may change.
Luca Fiorino: I think Iga will continue to be at the forefront of the rankings for the foreseeable future. However, confirming your skills in subsequent tournaments is always the hardest component of competing against tennis players. I think the WTA competition is tough. Compared to previous seasons, there may be no versatile champions, but the level of the top 30 players is higher than before. Iga is fully qualified to play a leading role with three or four other tennis players in the future. You need to be careful not to forget about the other young girls who will soon be on the tour. I hope Iga is as high as possible and gives us great competition.
George Belshaw: It was fun to hear Osaka talk about his plans after the final in Miami. She announced that she wants to become number one by the end of next season. If he is in a good mood, he can be a serious contender for Iga. Other tennis players like Coco Gauff and maybe even Emma Raducanu (at least from a British perspective we hope so) might jump into the fray, but if Iga wins Roland Garros and the next four tournaments, it could become impossible to stop for the next few seasons.
Bastian Fakshan: For me, her main competitor is Naomi Osaka. It all depends on how Japanese women deal with their mental problems and how they develop on the ground and grassy surfaces. It’s too early to say if Swiatek will dominate the coming years. We’ll see how Raducanu and Guaff will improve, and Andreescu will return. There is also a large group of slightly older tennis players headed by Padusa and Sabalenka. The Iga’s main advantage over the competition is its versatility: it’s great on clay and hard courts. And since tournaments are held on these roofs for 11 months out of the year, I think he’ll probably stay on top for a while.
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