How Iga's streak stacks up against Serena's

 - Dan Imhoff

World No.1's unbeaten stretch hailed as best since Williams' nine years ago

Iga Swiatek, R1, Roland-Garros 2022Cedric Lecocq / FFT

The air of invincibility around Iga Swiatek only builds as her unbeaten streak grows, but it comes as a delicate balancing act for the world No.1.

The conversation around each impending milestone threatens to become a millstone around her neck, particularly when a second Grand Slam title is on the line.

Poland’s world-beater took her current tally to 30 straight wins on Thursday in a merciless dismissal of Alison Riske.

Not since Serena Williams nine years ago has a woman carried such dominance into Roland-Garros.

“Just winning all these matches gave me a lot of confidence, but I also knew that it could really press me down if I like don't adjust to it well,” Swiatek said.

“I feel like I'm using my new position to put more pressure on my opponents. Yeah, I'm pretty happy that I could convert it to a way that is really helpful. I feel like my confidence is better.”

Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2022, first round© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

The parallels with Williams are unavoidable as Swiatek closes in on the 23-time major champion’s mark of 34 straight wins in 2013.

Former world No.3 and Tennis Channel analyst Pam Shriver said the only way Swiatek would likely be stopped on her current form and confidence was if she showed up below par on the day.

“Obviously she had some battles during that streak, the Samsonova [semi-final] in Stuttgart, the first set against Andreescu [in Rome]. There have been moments where she hasn't been at her best, but her record in second sets or her record in even tight first sets has been tremendous,” Shriver said.

“Who has been this dominant? You could say Ashleigh Barty has some of these qualities, but I would say to win this many tournaments in a row, beating virtually all of your fellow top-10ers and beating a few of them a couple of times, it's really Serena-like.

“Back in my day, it would have been Monica [Seles] or Steffi [Graf] or Martina [Navratilova]-like the way she's done it.”

Williams’ unbeaten streak in 2013 was the most dominant of her career.

It began at the Miami Open, where she picked up a record sixth title at that event. She added a trophy in Charleston and two Fed Cup wins before a clean sweep of her European clay swing.

She defeated Maria Sharapova for the Madrid title and backed it up against Victoria Azarenka for the silverware in Rome.

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova after the final at Roland-Garros 2013©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

The world No.1 became the oldest woman to win Roland-Garros with a straight-sets triumph over Sharapova for her second Paris crown, while Svetlana Kuznetsova, in the quarter-finals, was the only player she conceded a set to en route.

That winning stretch extended to the grass at Wimbledon before German Sabine Lisicki finally ended it in the fourth round.

Williams dropped just five sets in those 34 matches, the same number Swiatek has dropped to this point.

The Pole began her run with the title in Doha in February, before she collected a pair of Billie Jean King Cup victories and added the Sunshine Double – Indian Wells and Miami.

Upon the switch to European clay, she picked up trophies in Stuttgart in Rome, but there was no question as to where her focus was fixed.

“I will tell you, in order to make a streak like this truly memorable, you have to win at least one major during the streak,” Shriver said.

“And if the pressure starts to build, the combination of the streak plus trying to win Roland-Garros, then we can sort of think back to what happened to Novak Djokovic [in 2011] when he had an even a longer streak [41 straight matches, before he fell to Federer in the semi-finals].

“It's a fascinating thing that's happened; very unpredictable out of the Australian Open where Barty looked like the dominant No.1. Now we have a new dominant No.1, and who can stop her in this era of women's tennis?”

Swiatek would pass Williams’s winning streak with a second Roland-Garros title and her 35th straight win would draw her level with Venus Williams’ mark from 2000.

While a self-described mathematics fanatic, the 20-year-old Swiatek was not getting too swept up in the numbers.

“I don't keep track. I'm not like noting or something,” she said. “I just try to come back to these matches to get experience from them. But that's the only reason why I come back to them.”

Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2022, first round© Cédric Lecocq/FFT