Iga Swiatek has just won her third title in four years on the red clay courts of Roland-Garros.
Last September, she won a US Open hard-court championship for the first time. It is also the surface used at the Australian Open, where it was in the semi-finals.
And what about grass pitches? Wimbledon, which starts on Monday, has been its least successful Grand Slam tournament so far. Swiatek is just 5-3 at the All England Club – compare that to his 28-2 mark at Roland Garros, for example – and those three losses have come in the first round, third round and fourth round .
Swiatek, who has been ranked No. 1 since April 2022, gave some insight into how she views her grass game when asked in Paris this month if reaching the final stages of a major was still a big deal for her. .
“Well, that depends, because… if I (made) a Wimbledon quarter-final, I would be, like, over the moon,” Swiatek replied, “and I wouldn’t believe I’m in that place.”
So while other players might agree with the kind of assessment that Top 100-ranked American Claire Liu provided after facing Swiatek in Paris this year – “I’d say she’s good on just about any surface” – the subject of playing on the slick green stuff tends to evoke certain feelings for the 22-year-old Pole.
Two words she repeats when talking about weed: “uncomfortable” and “challenge”.
It’s such a contrast to how she feels on clay.
And yet, let’s not forget: Swiatek was the 2018 junior champion at Wimbledon, so it’s not like it was a completely alien surface or frame.
However, she insists, “on grass, sometimes it’s harder and I still have a lot to learn.
“It’s like you go out on the court and you don’t play like you ‘should’,” she said, doing air quotes with her fingers, “or like you ‘could,’ you know? So this thing adds more pressure.
Everything she does so well on clay or hard courts should apparently translate very well on the grass.
His big forehand. The way she can defend so well. And, most importantly, the way Swiatek can think through a game, find an opponent’s weaknesses and counter their own with adjustments here and there.
There are, of course, other women who have already shown they can do well on grass and at Wimbledon. Players such as 2022 champion Elena Rybakina, 2022 runner-up Ons Jabeur, two-time winner Petra Kvitova, 2021 semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka.
But there aren’t many people who will doubt that Swiatek will figure things out at some point.
“That’s power,” said Agnieszka Radwanska, Serena Williams’ 2012 finalist at the All England Club and the only Polish woman to reach the singles final there in the last 85 years.
“There are other players who hit the ball really hard,” Radwanska said, before explaining that Swiatek’s heavy spin gives her more chances to land with consistency, as opposed to flat shots which create more misses “at the fence”.
“That’s the difference,” Radwanska said. “A big difference.”
After watching her beat Karolina Muchova in three sets in the final at Roland Garros, Roland Garros tournament director Amélie Mauresmo said she believes Swiatek has what it takes to thrive at the All England Club.
“She needs to make maybe one or two adjustments, maybe technically or in her game,” said Mauresmo, a former No. 1-ranked player who won Wimbledon and the Australian Open in 2006, “but I can’t see why, with her consistency, with her physical abilities and, of course, mentally – how she fights and how she gives the other girls a lot of trouble – she couldn’t make a breakthrough there.
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