Iga Swiatek says expectations on her this season have at times felt “kind of ridiculous” and perhaps prevented her from enjoying even greater success.
Swiatek entered 2023 on the back of a dominant 2022 season that saw her win two Grand Slam titles and reel off a record-breaking 37-match win streak.
If this season doesn’t feel as impressive, it’s really not far behind.
Ahead of playing at this week’s WTA Finals, Swiatek was asked about the expectations around her this season.
“It’s not like it’s going to happen all the time. This season was kind of more normal, I would say, like most of the seasons we play, for even the top players.
“I think the main thing that I want to avoid is forgetting that this was also a good season, and I still won some great tournaments. I won a Grand Slam.”
One stat that shows how well Swiatek’s current season stands against her all-conquering 2022 campaign is the number of wins.
Last year Swiatek went 67-9; she could finish the 2023 season with a 68-11 win-loss record after Cancun.
She also has the chance to reclaim the world No. 1 ranking from Aryna Sabalenka.
“Comparing everything to 2022, I can tell you pretty confidently that I may not have a season like that again, but I’m going to do my best,” she said.
“For sure, the expectations from the outside, it was the thing that really sometimes stopped me this season. I’m going to work on not letting it stop me this time.”
Swiatek is in a group at the WTA Finals that contains Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, US Open winner Coco Gauff, and Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur.
“Honestly, so many things can happen this week,” she said.
“I think any one of us can win this tournament. I mean, Caro Garcia last year, she wasn’t in the top three and she still won. Same with [Garbine] Muguruza in Guadalajara [in 2021].
“History shows that it’s not about who’s the favourite.”
Swiatek will open against Vondrousova on Monday evening.
The world No. 2 has a 2-0 record against the Wimbledon champion, who is hoping an “annoying” approach can lead to success.
“I feel like I’m the smallest here,” she said.
“I don’t have that much power as other girls maybe. It’s a bit tough sometimes. I was always the smallest so I had to find ways. I feel like my lefty [game] is also a bit annoying for other players. Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to do, just to be annoying also.”
The other match on Monday will see Gauff face Jabeur.
Jabeur has not hit the same heights she did in 2022, when she reached two Grand Slam finals, and has the fewest match wins this season (35) among the eight singles players at the WTA Finals.
However, she said she is looking forward to playing with “no pressure”.
“I love challenges,” she said.
“It’s going to be great for me to see my level. But the good thing, I try to play freely and no pressure. I can see the trophy in my house really good.
“I know the place. I’m picturing where I can put it.”
Read the full article here