Iga Swiatek, the math-head who can write history

Written by Gaurav Bhatt

October 10, 2020 2:05:16 am

rgIga Swiatek with coach Nick Brown

During final 12 months’s French Open, Iga Swiatek defined how she applies her favorite topic to tennis: “I see the geometry of the court and use the angles.” And when not fixing on-court issues along with her measured tennis, the 19-year-old can be discovered fixing math issues with AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses blasting in the background.

“She’s got an old head on young shoulders,” coach Nick Brown sums it up. “You don’t even have to see it in her tennis, just speak to her. She reminds me of somebody like Martina Hingis when she was younger. Her decision making is really good. She processes things, instructions, tactical information. She’s quiet and level headed.”

Swiatek additionally doesn’t like history as a result of she isn’t “good at remembering dates”. That may simply change on Saturday when she squares up with Sofia Kenin in the French Open ladies’s singles last. It’s been a historic run already for Swiatek — the first Polish lady to achieve the French Open singles last in the Open period and the youngest participant since Kim Clijsters in 2001.

She started the marketing campaign with a 6-1, 6-2 win over 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, after which defeated the prime seed Simona Halep by the similar rating in the fourth spherical, exacting revenge over the Romanian for a 6-1, 6-Zero defeat final 12 months.

“She was a bit distraught when she came off that match. I told her you will use this experience in the future to be able to come back and achieve great things,” Brown tells The Indian Express from Cambridge, UK. “She came to train here before Christmas with her coach (Piotr Sierzputowski), and she’s coming back here in November. And you can’t get her off the court. She wants to stay on till she gets it, and as a coach you want this kind of drive and work ethic.”

The former British No. 2 has been working intently with Polish tennis since 2005, and was known as upon in 2018 to take inventory of the prospects. He struck a rapport with Swiatek and her coach throughout the junior French Open championships that 12 months, the place she reached the singles semis and received the doubles title. A month later, they had been working collectively at the Wimbledon juniors.

“Iga had never played on grass before. She drew the top-seed in the first round, and lost the first set. And that was the only set the lost the whole tournament.”

Every time Swiatek stepped off the lawns, she advised Brown: “I hate grass, I don’t like playing on it.” “‘How do you like grass now?’ I asked her after she won the final. ‘Oh, I love it’,” laughs Brown. “I think she has the game to win Wimbledon. She doesn’t think so at the moment because she was brought up on clay.”

Breakout on clay

It was on the brick mud at Roland Garros that Swaitek broke via final 12 months, reaching the fourth spherical earlier than she acquired what Brown calls “an absolute hiding” at the palms of Halep. Same spherical, similar opponent, Swiatek commanded the courtroom this 12 months and after the win stated: “I am, I think stunned.”

Brown wasn’t. The 59-year-old is aware of a factor or two about upsetting favourites. At 1991 Wimbledon, Brown, ranked 591, despatched the All England dwelling crowd into delirium with a win over 10th seed and former 12 months’s semifinalist Goran Ivanisevic.

“When you walk on the court you’ve got to completely ignore who you’re playing. It’s all about imposing your game on your opponent, irrespective of who it is. A lot of people can’t do that and get intimidated by the person on the other end. That’s not the case with Iga.”

Swiatek outplayed Halep, smashing 30 winners to the latter’s 12. Among her rising legion of followers are opponents and commentators. Pam Shriver has been singing praises of the deadly forehand whereas Mats Wilander is reminded of Novak Djokovic by her full recreation.

Call it Swiateknical tennis, if you’ll. The first serve is quick and correct. She is dominant from the baseline, picks the balls early and smacks them with heavy spin. In the six matches, she has racked up 130 winners.

She just isn’t afraid to return ahead both. In a event dominated by drop pictures as gamers have been troubled shifting up on the damp clay, Swiatek has received 51 of 66 internet factors, successful price of 77!

Also aiding her volley-game has been the spectacular doubles marketing campaign, which resulted in a 7-6 (5), 1-6, 6-Four loss in Friday’s semifinals to Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawczyk.

“Last year, she didn’t play doubles. I spoke to the coach and said she needs to do that,” says Brown. “Being on the court with some of the best players is good for the game. It gives you more court-time during a tournament and during a Grand Slam when you’re not playing every day, it gives you something to focus on during the singles matches.”

On Friday, nevertheless, Swiatek’s focus wavered. She has conceded solely 23 video games throughout her march to the singles last. In the doubles semifinal, she conceded 14. Swiatek and accomplice Nicole Melichar misplaced the first set after being two breaks up, and did not consolidate the break in the decider thrice. Swiatek regarded flappable, taking breaks, flinging racquet and arguing with the umpire.

Such moments of vulnerability could possibly be lethal in opposition to her former junior rival on Saturday. In January, Kenin was the shock package deal when she lifted the Australian Open after wins over world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and two-time Major winner Garbine Muguruza. And not like Swiatek, Kenin has been battle-tested in Paris with 4 three-setters. Saturday is the American’s likelihood to win the second Major of the 12 months and distance herself from the one-hit wonders like Barty, Bianca Andreescu, Jelena Ostapenko and Sloane Stephens.

“Iga beat her the last time they met as juniors, which was actually at the French Open. She’s not going to be intimidated by Sophie, I can tell you that now. Tomorrow, it’s up for grabs. It’s a shootout. It’s Iga’s chance to embrace the moment and make history.”

French Open ladies’s singles: 6:30pm IST on Star community/Hotstar

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