‘The Mozart of tennis’ – plaudits pour in for French Open champion Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek is the toast of Paris and Poland
Iga Swiatek is the toast of Paris and Poland - (Copyright AP)
13:28pm, Sun 11 Oct 2020
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“The Polish queen of Paris” and “the Mozart of tennis” were two descriptions of Iga Swiatek as her home country toasted its newest sporting star.

The 19-year-old’s romp to the French Open title was completed with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the final on Saturday.

Swiatek lost just 28 games in seven matches, a remarkably low tally for any grand slam champion, let alone a player ranked 54 competing in just her seventh major tournament.

The teenager, who was still mulling over delaying her tennis career to go to university prior to her brilliant fortnight in Paris, is the first Polish player to win a grand slam singles title.

She turned her phone off during the tournament but was well aware of how much excitement her performances had generated back home.

“Polish queen of Paris. Great Swiatek triumph at Roland Garros,” declared newspaper Przeglad Sportowy, while the country’s president Andrzej Duda wrote on Twitter: “Great thanks and congratulations for @iga_swiatek! A historic day for Poland, for Polish sport and for Polish tennis. Bravo!”

The “Mozart of tennis”, meanwhile, was the description of one of Poland’s greatest tennis players, Wojciech Fibak. He told Gazeta Wyborcza: “She will be an icon of Polish sport like (footballer) Robert Lewandowski.”

The excitement about Swiatek within tennis is also clear, with pundits and former greats already hailing her as a future winner of multiple slams.

“She is going to win so many more – you can see that in her demeanour throughout the whole final,” said former world number one Mats Wilander.

It feels like I’m watching Rafa Nadal.

“I think she can play such a good match because she can come to the net, she is comfortable at the net, she can hit the odd drop shot here and there so she knows she has plan B and plan C.

“Because of that, plan A – which is take the ball early and play as aggressively as possible – you are more relaxed trying to pursue that.

“We know she is a great clay-court player with the style of game she has. The next question is how on the faster courts and the grass courts does her topspin work? And what can the other women do to her, can they take time away from Swiatek? It doesn’t look like it at the moment.

Iga Swiatek forehand was an unstoppable weapon - (Copyright AP)

“Once she gets control of the rally with her forehand, you just can’t get out of the grip. It feels like I’m watching Rafa Nadal.”

Swiatek idolises Nadal and is the first teenager to lift a singles trophy at Roland Garros since the great Spaniard.

There has been much attention, too, on the presence in Swiatek’s team of sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz and her focus on the mental side of the game at such a young age.

Speaking to the No Challenges Remaining podcast, Abramowicz said: “She’s very, very conscious of how she wants to develop. She really thinks about mental health, and mental development for the performance is very, very important for her.

“She was very open-minded from the beginning, even if she was just before her 18th birthday. I think she’s the most aware athlete I have ever been working with, even if she’s just 19.

“So big credits for her parents, family and herself, because she’s so willing to dig into this, understand it better and not only work on herself and for herself but to understand how this mind thing works in general.”

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It was a disappointing result for Kenin but the 21-year-old American was hampered by a thigh injury and can reflect with pride on her season at the grand slams.

She was the youngster breaking through in brilliant fashion in Australia and she has done what many other players have struggled with by quickly backing it up.

Kenin said: “I guess I have the most winning matches in slams (this year). Obviously I’m playing some really good tennis at the slams. In Australia I won. US Open I got to the fourth round. Had a tough one against Elise Mertens. Here getting to the finals. Overall it’s a good ratio.”

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