With such a distinguished list of accomplishments so early in her career, it’s easy to forget that Iga Swiatek is still just 21.
The three-time Grand Slam champion is into her 56th consecutive week as the world No.1 and has enjoyed a fast ascent ever since she exploded onto the scene by winning the 2020 Roland-Garros (which was held in the fall instead of the spring) as an unseeded 19-year-old.
Particularly ruthless on clay, Swiatek has won almost every big tournament on the red dirt, twice, except for Madrid. She owns a pair of titles at each of Roland-Garros, Rome and Stuttgart, and is keen to complete her collection by triumphing at the Mutua Madrid Open – an event she has only competed at once, in 2021.
“Madrid is tricky with the altitude, so I’ll see. I’ve only played twice at altitude. I may be world No.1 but I don’t have as much experience in tennis as you may expect,” the young Pole told WTA Insider in an interview last Sunday after her successful title defence in Stuttgart.
“So I’m just going to see. My coach is a guy with a lot of knowledge. So I’m sure he’s going to help me manage that properly and get used to the conditions faster than I did in 2021.”
Swiatek explained on Wednesday how different the conditions are in Madrid compared to the indoor clay court she competed on in Stuttgart last week, saying that the “ball flies in the air much faster” at the Caja Magica.
“We played with the Roland-Garros balls in Stuttgart, so my main goal was to play as hard as possible, because these balls are heavy. Here we also have heavy balls, but I feel like they are more flying like bullets. You have to control them. And the clay is a little bit different. The movement and stuff, I just have to get used to it,” she added.
Swiatek is confident she will make the necessary adjustments to feel comfortable in Madrid and is eager to learn more about competing at altitude.
As someone who spends her free time assembling complex Lego models, this new challenge on clay is a puzzle Swiatek will undoubtedly enjoy solving. She is a problem-solver at heart.
“I want to win every tournament that I go to, but Madrid, for sure, is still this kind of tournament that I haven’t figured it out for 100 percent, so I just want to get the experience. Winning would mean that I would play six matches, so that’s a lot and I can learn a lot from that,” said Swiatek.
“But for now I’m just really focused on the first round, and I want to do it step by step.”
Swiatek has an opening round bye in Madrid and will face a lucky loser in round two – either Viktoriya Tomova or Julia Grabher.