By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Monday, February 12, 2024
Streaking right, Iga Swiatek flicked a full-stretch forehand to extend the point, eventually rifling a forehand to end it.
Defending the sidelines with defiance and delivering declarative strikes from inside the baseline, Swiatek showed superb all-court skills in her 6-1, 6-1 sweep of Sorana Cirstea at the Qatar Open today.
Two-time defending champion Swiatek scored her ninth straight Doha win in her first match since falling in the Australian Open third round last month.
Afterward, Swiatek said playing her best tennis is a tactical balancing act.
Tremendous timing and athleticism allow Swiatek to step into the court, take the ball on rise and play attacking tennis.
At the same time, Swiatek’s exceptional speed and court coverage and her ability to play heavy topspin forehands empower her to play great defense.
Is Swiatek at her best as a point-extender or point-extinguisher?
She believes it’s a balance of both.
“I have times where I feel, yeah, like, I’m playing sometimes even too aggressively,” Swiatek told the media in Doha. “So I’m still learning how to balance that to use all these advantages that, you know, being a great defense player and having this, you know, ability to play high topspin and the balls that are going to push my opponent further from the baseline and on the other hand being able to sometimes go forward and play more flat.”
The world No. 1 is celebrating her 90th week at the top of the rankings.
Applying her all-court skills at the right time is something Swiatek says she’s still learning to manage. Working with coach Thomasz Wiktorowski, Swiatek said it’s about unlocking the right tactics for the opponent, surface and tournament conditions at hand.
“I feel like I can do both, but I feel like I still need to learn, you know, how to manage it the best way and pick the right solutions and right tournaments and right surfaces,” Swiatek said. “But my coach is really smart and he has a good eye, so he always tells me what will be the best option, so that’s really helpful.”
Three of Swiatek’s four Grand Slam titles have come on Roland Garros’ red clay, but the 2022 US Open champion has won 10 of her 17 titles on hard court.
This week, Swiatek is bidding to become the first woman to three-peat as champion at the Tour-level since Serena Williams won three consecutive Miami Open crowns from 2013-2015.
Photo credit: Robert Prange/Getty