Swiatek ready to handle pressure of top ranking

Mar 28, 2022; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Iga Swiatek (POL) celebrates after match point against Cori Gauff (USA)(not pictured) in a fourth round women’s singles match in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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March 29 (Reuters) — Iga Swiatek puts her rise to world number one on the same level as her French Open win in 2020 but the 20-year-old Pole says she feels much better prepared to handle the pressure of her latest career milestone.

Swiatek, who will replace retired Australian Ash Barty as number one when the rankings are updated on Monday, went from being a largely unknown 19-year-old ranked 54th in the world to acquiring celebrity status after her win at Roland Garros.

But she found it extremely difficult to adapt to her new-found fame back in Poland and struggled to get to grips with increased media demands and sponsorship deals.

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«There is more excitement, because after winning Roland Garros — I can actually compare these two experiences, it’s like on the same level — I felt a lot of doubt and I didn’t really know what’s going to happen and how I’m going to handle that,» Swiatek told reporters in Miami on Monday.

«But right now I feel more prepared and I feel like I’m in a better place. So there is more excitement and more satisfaction and actually positive thoughts and emotions. Because after Roland Garros, it was really a mess.»

Swiatek credits her work with sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz for her improved mental strength. While defeat had once felt like her world was falling apart, the Pole says she is now much better prepared to handle adverse situations.

Monday’s 6-3 6-1 victory over teenage American Coco Gauff marked a career-best 14th straight win for Swiatek, who has already won WTA 1000 titles in Doha and Indian Wells this season.

«After Roland Garros, we also started to kind of prepare for the success, and … there are going to be tough moments and there is going to be a huge amount of pressure,» Swiatek said.

«I have been doing well cutting off the expectations from the outside. It was always, for me, harder to deal with my own expectations that I had for myself.»

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Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Peter Rutherford

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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