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four things to know about Iga Swiatek, the new world number 1

In a particularly open women’s circuit, especially since the end of the Serena Williams era, a new change at the top of the hierarchy is taking place. While in the last twenty Grand Slam tournaments, fourteen different players have entered their names on the list – half of them having failed to double the bet – Ashleigh Barty is no longer in first place in the ranking of the WTA.

Iga Swiatek took this place on Monday, April 4, to become the twenty-eighth world No. 1 in history (since 1975 and the weekly ranking update), taking advantage of the surprise end of the career of the 25 year old Australian. At only 20 years old, the Polish woman invites herself to the top of world tennis. Here are four things to know about the new star of the women’s circuit.

She’s the queen of the finals

On October 10, 2020, Iga Swiatek won her first Grand Slam final, at Roland-Garros. It is also her first victory on the main circuit in her first appearance in a Major final, beating the world No. 1, Simona Halep (6-1, 6-2) in the round of 16, and by lifting the trophy without having conceded a single set.

Iga Swiatek poses with the Suzanne Lenglen trophy after her victory at Roland Garros, October 10, 2020. (CORINNE DUBREUIL / FEDERATION FRANCAISE DE TENNIS)

This double hit almost becomes his trademark. Because both on the secondary circuit, where she opened her prize list at the age of 15 in Stockholm in 2016, and on the main circuit, with this success in Paris four years later, the Pole shines with her efficiency. In thirteen finals, she won twelve times (6 victories on the ITF circuit from 2016 to 2018, as many on the WTA circuit), for a single defeat.

It was in 2019, for his first final on the main circuit, in Lugano. Since then, she has just lined up twelve winner’s trophies, in tournaments as important as Roland-Garros, but also Adelaide, Rome, Doha, Indian Wells and this weekend Miami. Moreover, she never lost a single set there, and only left her opponents with an average of 1.6 games per set. A real terror.

She is the first to win the first three WTA 1000s of the season

By recording the Doha, Indian Wells and Miami tournaments on her list at the start of 2022, the Pole has become the first to win the first three WTA 1000s of the season.

In addition, this Indian Wells-Miami double, only Steffi Graf (1994 and 1996), Kim Clijsters (2005) and Victoria Azarenka (2016) had achieved it before them. She is therefore in the footsteps of the greatest, being, as a bonus, the youngest to do so. A sequence which led her to forfeit the Charleston tournament this week. “After the marathon of three tournaments where I played in the final, I feel a little injured in my arm. It’s okay but I need to rest“, she explained.

She comes from a family of athletes.

The anecdote may make you smile, but above all it says a lot about the temperament of the young Iga Swiatek. If she started playing tennis when she was little, it was only because her older sister, Agata, played it and she wanted to beat her. A few years later, when the eldest of the family quit tennis, the youngest definitely won her bet.

And for the Swiateks, sport is a family affair, since the father, Tomasz Swiatek, is a former Polish Olympic rower. In 1988 at the Seoul Olympics, he competed in the men’s quadruple event.

His idol is called Rafael Nadal

Winning her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros must have had a special resonance for the Pole. Porte d’Auteuil is the land of his idol, Rafael Nadal, that the right-hander shone.

“I didn’t watch tennis much when I was young, she had explained to the German magazine Tennis Magazin (in German). The only player who fascinated me was Rafael Nadal. I guess I learned my style of play from him. I like to hit balls with a lot of spin. My first coach also told me that it’s unusual for a girl to play with effects. He advised me to focus on that because one day it will be a great strength.”

In October 2020, it was during a videoconference that the two champions met. A moment immortalized by the young woman, who then spoke of the realization of a dream. There is no doubt that now, it is in flesh and blood, and with a trophy in her hands on a certain ocher earth, that she wishes to update her photo album.

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