Swiatek shining in ‘learning mode’

 - Alex Sharp

2020 Roland-Garros champion Iga Swiatek has cruised through to the third round at Wimbledon to face Irina-Camelia Begu.

Iga Swiatek Wimbledon 2021©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

For Iga Swiatek this Wimbledon is all about evolution.

The Pole was hailed junior champion on No.1 Court back in 2018, but has found match time on the grass courts limited since then.

Three first round exits in 2019, sadly no grass campaign last summer and then two matches in Eastbourne in June. Despite the lack of experience on resplendent lawns, the 20-year-old is an eager Iga, determined to adapt.

It’s all about learning mode.

“Few days ago, while I was doing press, it came to my mind that it was here, where three years ago I did my first press conference. At that time everything was new on and off the court. Time flies, and so much has changed since then but on grass I'm still in learning mode,” Tweeted the world No.9 ahead of her Wimbledon title pursuit.

“Trying to stay humble and just putting the work day by day. It's not easy and I still make a lot of mistakes. And it's okay.”

So far Swiatek has dispatched the dangerous Hsieh Su-Wei 6-4, 6-4 and 2010 runner-up Vera Zvonareva with a clinical 6-1, 6-3 scoreline. Playing in just her 10th Grand Slam main draw, the 20-year-old has already made the third round or better at all four majors.

It’s that sort of consistency Swiatek always talks up and the Pole is relieved to have hit the ground running so well in south-west London. 

“My attitude changed from Eastbourne which wasn't really positive because it was really nice and easy to play for me without any expectations. But when I came here, I realised that I'm on Wimbledon, and everybody started talking about my junior run again,” reflected the No.7 seed.

“I realised that, ‘Hey, it would be nice to win some matches.’ I had some expectations. It is a bit of relief. Also the tournament just started and I hope I'm going to keep going. I'm just going to perform well, and actually, learn something because I only played one week on grass. Hopefully day by day I'm going to just stay focused and just keep improving. That's my goal.”

The philosophical Pole is such a student of the game, revealing before Wimbledon she wants to pick up grass court pointers from the likes of her idol Rafael Nadal and 2019 Wimbledon winner Simona Halep

Iga Swiatek Wimbledon 2021©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Time to get the laptop out

“I was watching some of their matches. I was watching basically the finals. They were dominating, playing really well. They were just so confident. Maybe that wasn't the best way to learn because they were just playing too good,” mused Swiatek, up against world No.79 Irina-Camelia Begu in the third round. 

“I need to watch some more tennis on grass and to see how people are maybe coming back after some difficulties because that's going to give more than just being and having the flow and winning. It's hard to see that sometimes from the laptop screen, but maybe it's going to give me some ideas.”

The signs so far have been very encouraging at SW19, efficiently swatting aside two players who have featured in the latter stages of Wimbledon.

“Every match gives me opportunity to have more and more confidence. So I'm pretty happy with my performance today,” added Swiatek after dismantling Zvonareva. 

“Playing such an experienced player is never easy, so I didn't know what to expect at the beginning, because she has many years of playing on grass and I have only two, basically. I wanted to be aggressive from the beginning and just play really powerful. And I did that, so I'm pretty happy.”

The powerful Pole is unwinding by building LEGO back at the hotel and alongside learning about grass court tennis, is keen to brush up on her film back catalogue too.

“I was watching some movies because I haven't watched a lot of movies. I'm really lacking in the knowledge of good movies. I'm trying to catch up. Yeah, if you have some good movies, just text me and I'll watch them.”

It’s always learning mode for Swiatek.