Swiatek 'proud' of 'special' winning streak

 - Simon Cambers

The world No.1 seems unstoppable as she surpasses Serena Williams' career-best unbeaten run.

Iga Swiatek, trophée, vestiaires, Roland-Garros 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

For most tennis players, winning their first Grand Slam title is a moment they will never forget and often never surpass.

For Iga Swiatek, winning a second Roland-Garros title in three years, when the eyes of the world were on her, meant even more than her first.

While her first triumph, in 2020, came almost out of the blue, this time she was the bookmakers favourite, the one everyone knew they had to beat, which brings its own pressure.

Not only did she deal with it, she dealt with it in style and on Saturday, in front of Polish royalty in the form of football star Robert Lewandowski, she produced a performance worthy of a world No.1 as she beat American teenager Coco Gauff 6-1, 6-3.

“It feels amazing really, very different from 2020,” said the 21-year-old Swiatek. “I feel more prepared, more solid. I can celebrate a little bit more.

“I think in 2020 the main thing that I felt was confusion, because I have never really believed 100 per cent that I can actually win a Grand Slam.

“This time it was pure work and pure... I don't know. Just with everything that was going on, I'm also more aware of how it is to win a Grand Slam and what it takes and how every puzzle has to come together and basically every aspect of the game has to work.

“With that awareness, I was even more happy and even more proud of myself, because in 2020 it was all, I just felt that I'm lucky. This time I felt like I really did the work.”

Swiatek picked up her second Grand Slam title with a performance full of power, precision and maturity as she blew away Gauff in the first set and then, when the 18-year-old threatened to fight back, slammed the door in her face to win her sixth straight tournament.

The Pole is the first woman to win six events in a row since Justine Henin in 2007/8 and her 35th straight win puts her level with Venus Williams – and one ahead of Serena Williams – in terms of the most consecutive wins this century on the WTA tour.

“It may seem pretty weird but having that 35th win and kind of doing something more than Serena did, it's something special,” she said. “Because I always wanted to be, I don't know, to have some kind of a record. In tennis it's pretty hard after Serena's career.

“So basically that really hit me, you know. Obviously winning a Grand Slam too, but this one was pretty special because I felt like I've done something that nobody ever done, and maybe it's going to be even more. Yeah, this one was special.”

Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2022, final© Philippe Montigny/FFT

Lewandowski was sat just behind the Swiatek player box, where her coaches wore shirts which read: “You didn’t wake up to be ordinary”.

Luckily, Swiatek had not spotted Poland’s most famous footballer. If she had, she might have lost her concentration.

"I didn't know Lewandowski was there, and I'm happy because I would get so stressed,” she said. “I don’t know if he’s a huge tennis fan. Wow, he’s been like the top athlete in our country for so many years, it’s hard to believe actually that he came to watch me. I hope he liked it. I'm just overwhelmed.”

Swiatek admitted that she had felt more pressure than ever before, to fulfil everyone’s expectations and show she was worthy of being No.1.

“It is like basically the hardest part of the job, I would say, because you can see on Grand Slams that there are a lot of surprises,” she said. “It's not easy to cope with all that different atmosphere and the pressure, because everybody is preparing for the Grand Slam always.

“For me, I felt the baggage. The hardest thing is like not letting yourself think about that and over-analyse and not letting yourself think about all the numbers and the odds.

“I have been doing that for a few months now, and for sure, two weeks here were harder, also because you guys keep reminding me about all this stuff. But it's part of the work and I'm getting better and better at it, and that's also something that I'm proud of.”

Swiatek will now head to the grass-court season as the favourite for Wimbledon, where she won the junior title in 2018 but where she has yet to go past the last 16 in the women’s event.

Expectations will be sky-high from outside, but not from inside, she said.

“My coach believes I can win more matches on grass,” she said. “I don't know about that yet. But I would like to add like one or two. Honestly, grass is always tricky. I actually like the part that I have no expectations there. It's something kind of refreshing.

“I'm going to just prepare my best and maybe with his experiences that he had with Aga Radwanska, it was her favourite surface, so maybe he's going to give me some tips that are actually going to be really helpful, and I'm going to enjoy playing on grass a little bit more.”