Swiatek dominance spurs on team-mate Linette

Unseeded Pole hails wave of hype around world No.1 after Jabeur upset

Magda Linette, Roland Garros 2022, first round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

It takes some getting used to playing before a full house when sharing the stage with a world No.1 on home turf.

Magda Linette was there throughout the wave of hype for tennis in Poland – first thanks to former world No.2 Agnieszka Radwanska and now as a more than adept deputy to the all-conquering Iga Swiatek.

Ten years the new queen of tennis’ senior, the 30-year-old Linette has experienced the rise and rise of her compatriot from a gifted junior to a bona fide major champion and Polish sporting superstar.

It is a success story she can’t help but become swept up in.

Last month, Linette had the privilege of combining with Swiatek to guide Poland to a Billie Jean King Cup qualifying triumph over Romania at Radom Sports Centre.

It was the first time Swiatek had taken the court at home since her ascent to top spot.

“I think seeing how many people came, I mean, it was completely sold out for her, so I think it's something amazing for us,” Linette said, following her upset of sixth seed Ons Jabeur in the opening round at Roland-Garros on Sunday.

“I think it's the first time we have No.1, first time a Grand Slam champion.

“I think people were scared [when] Agnieszka was retiring and now I think it's something amazing that we have something even better and possibly for a longer period of time.

“On the other hand we have Hubert [Hurkacz] who is also doing unbelievable.”

The ripple effect of Hurkacz’s Miami Open triumph last year and victory over Roger Federer to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals were also massive news in the Eastern European nation.

Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2022, practice© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

In the shadows of her compatriots, Linette enjoyed a stellar Wimbledon of her own in 2021 when she toppled world No.5 Elina Svitolina to make back-to-back third rounds at the majors, something she had never done before.

It took Tunisian Jabeur to halt her run in the third round in Paris a month before.

Revenge came sweet this time round.

“You knew how difficult Ons is going to be. I lost to her last year here and then this year in Miami, and so I kind of knew what to expect,” Linette said.

“I had some sort of a plan, but I just knew that she was really on fire this time and I would just really need to play point by point, be really mentally tough.”

Madga Linette, Roland Garros 2022, first round© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

The world No.52 is one of three Poles in the main draw alongside top seed Swiatek and Magdalena Frech.

It is the most since 2015 when Linette, Radwanska and Paula Kania lined up.

“I really hope our country will use it in a good way,” Linette said of the hype surrounding Swiatek.

“Tennis will develop and second of all, we will have more facilities, more tournaments and people become more interested in tennis.

“Obviously I hope it's going to be more available to people that don't have as much money as it's still quite expensive in Poland. I really hope that's going to be used in the right way.”

The 30-year-old Linette awaits freshly-crowned Rabat champion Martina Trevisan or Britain's Harrie Dart in round two.