Legends hail Swiatek's confidence and poise

Navratilova and Majoli impressed by world No.1's red-hot run in Paris

Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2022, fourth round© Philippe Montigny/FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

Winning streaks always look easier on paper than in reality.

As Iga Swiatek can attest, they say nothing of the enormous mental and physical toll to keep that figure in the losses column pegged at zero.

The Pole’s come-from-behind fourth-round triumph over Chinese 19-year-old Zheng Qinwen on Monday extended her match-winning streak to 32, a turnaround she credited with a pivot to a less obvious mental ploy.

“I was kind of singing songs, and I realised in the first set when I was really focusing on that technical stuff it didn't really work because I got more and more tense when I couldn't do that and why I couldn't really prepare to the shot the best way,” Swiatek said. “I was singing in my mind, basically.”

An ardent AC/DC fan, the now 21-year-old had often spoken of music as a means of pumping herself up before a big showdown or to clear the mind away from match day.

Against Zheng on Monday, Thunderstruck never made the mental playlist.

“That's not the first time. I'm always singing something, but I changed the song,” Swiatek said.

“It was Dua Lipa, so kind of a guilty pleasure.”

Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2022, fourth round© Philippe Montigny/FFT

After Ashleigh Barty’s surprise retirement in March, the then-20-year-old understandably could have taken time to adjust.

She could not have stepped up more emphatically in the ensuing months.

With those additional expectations came privilege.

“Well, I really enjoy when I have a request about what hour I want to play and they are actually listening. That's nice… Maybe the gifts sometimes,” Swiatek said. “Maybe that I can put more pressure on my opponents.

“I feel more pressure, so that is not enjoyable, but I have been doing well with that, I think.”

Former world No.1 and 18-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Navratilova was disappointed the sport was robbed of the chance to see Barty and Swiatek at their peak, but could not have been more impressed at how the Pole has handled her newfound status.

“It's too bad because that would have been a great rivalry, but Iga's got a lot of confidence now and she doesn't seem to be bothered,” Navratilova told rolandgarros.com.

“The other day she was up a set and 4-1, serving just went away for four games and then she said 'no problem, I'll win the next three and win the match'.

“She just gets on with it. She really is great about staying in the moment and not panicking. She has confidence as well. She should because she's moving well, she's healthy and she's hitting the ball great.”

Roland-Garros 1997 champion Iva Majoli knew what it was like to break a world No.1’s winning streak in Paris.

The Croatian snapped Martina Hingis’ unbeaten 35-0 start to the season in the final in Paris.

On form alone, however, she found it difficult to look past Swiatek for the title.

“I'd still go with Iga. I think she's having an amazing run. For me at the moment she's the hardest to beat, but it's sport so anything can happen,” Majoli said.

“(Jessica) Pegula's been playing well. She's an outsider but she's going to be a dangerous one. Still a little extra to Iga though. I think it's going to be interesting to see what happens.”