Dubai Duty Free Tennis: Iga Swiatek confident of dominating women's tennis

The world number one says she is still far from playing her best tennis


Leslie Wilson Jr

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Iga Swiątek during a press conference in Dubai on Monday. — Supplied photo
Iga Swiątek during a press conference in Dubai on Monday. — Supplied photo

Published: Mon 20 Feb 2023, 10:44 PM

World number one Iga Swiatek looked in imperious form when she successfully defended her Qatar Open title without dropping a set last week, but the reigning French and US Open champion maintains that she is still far from playing her best tennis yet.

After spending 46 weeks at the pinnacle of the women’s game since April 4, Swiatek suffered a shock fourth round exit in the Australian Open, losing to 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.

“I really used the time after the Australian Open properly and I could reset, focus just on working on my technique. And mentally also,” she said on Monday.

“I just learned a lesson on my last match in Australia. I realise I have to energetically be there on court and run a little bit more, give more. In Doha I was able to do that.

“But I don't think I peaked because there are many pretty nice tournaments that I like (ahead), like Rome, Roland Garros, basically whole clay season. I think I just got my level up comparing to Australia, that's all,” added Swiatek, who banked $9.4m in 2022.

After the Williams sisters, tennis hasn't really seen a dominant player.

While Naomi Osaka raised hopes by winning four Grand Slams in three years, the Japanese stars battle with depression saw her career hit a roadblock.

Now it's the 21-year-old Swiatek who seems to have the tools to dominate the women's game, especially after her brilliant performance in 2022 when she won her second and third Slams.

"I think last season was already pretty dominant, so yeah," Swiatek said when asked if she could be the next dominant player.

Different ball game

As she pursues the business end in Dubai this week following two previous unsuccessful attempts in 2021-2022, Swiatek will seek some relief in the tennis balls being used during the tournament, if not the weather.

“I think in Doha we used Australian Open Dunlop,” she revealed. “Here we had US Open, the women's type. It was really light and it was flying like crazy.

“The Australian Open Dunlop is more bouncy, I would say. It is dynamic, but it's not flying without control. That's what I felt when I played with the US Open one. It's just my opinion.

“I'm pretty happy that this year finally we have the same balls, Australian Open Dunlop, because every year we had to adjust and change the ball every week, which was pretty stupid for me,” she said with a smile.

Regarding the switch from one Gulf country to another, Swiatek felt that she did not need to reset although she did admit that something felt different in Dubai this year.

“Usually it's much drier. I remember last year the courts were very fast. Truth to be told, I didn't play any practice yet, so I don't know,” she said. “I think looking at weather conditions, the weather is more similar to Doha this year.”

Like many sportsmen and fellow players on the women’s tour including Victoria Azarenka, Swiatek pumps herself up before going on court by listing to music.

But not just any music. Hard rock, a subgenre whose trademark features soaring vocals, electric guitars and pounding drums and bass guitar.

So, what is on her playlist these days?

“I did change a little bit, but it's still rock. It's still, like, Red Hot Chili Peppers, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin.

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