Swiatek’s tribute to predecessor Barty: ‘Ash inspired me to work harder’

In a press conference in Brisbane on the eve of the start of the United Cup, Iga Swiatek opened up about her status as world No 1

Iga Swiatek at the 2022 US Open Iga Swiatek at the 2022 US Open (Zuma/Panoramic)

After playing and losing the World Tennis League final in Dubai with the Kites, Iga Swiatek is in Brisbane to play another team competition, the United Cup. After an exceptional year in 2022 in which she became world No 1 and won two more Grand Slam titles, all the counters are reset on the eve of the start of the 2023 season.

In a press conference on Wednesday, the Polish player was asked about how she became world No 1, the position she automatically inherited after Ash Barty’s retirement, and whether she felt the need to prove her new status to the world. Swiatek explained that she was proud of her dominance in 2022 – and paid a great tribute to the Australian.

“I’m super proud of myself. I feel like a huge satisfaction, because I have been working my whole life to get to this point. I didn’t really think it’s like possible for me. For sure when Ash retired, I felt like mixed emotions because I felt like she still has the best tennis out there, so yeah, actually, hopefully maybe this week we are going to be able to meet and I’m going to say it straight to her, but she really inspired me to work harder and her different, I don’t know, game style made me realise that there is always like room for improvement.

“At first I felt like I wasn’t sure if this is kind of my place to be. Ash, she seemed like a huge role model for everybody in terms of her behaviour on court but also off court.

“She really set the bar pretty high, so I need to show it to people but also show it to myself that I’m in the right place.”

Swiatek: looking forward to 2023

The 2023 season is about to start in Australia but all the questions for Swiatek in the press conference were about her outstanding 2022. For the Pole, being praised for her accomplishments in this past year is nice but she wants to focus 100% on the one to come.

“I’m going to try to cut off everything that happened last year and just focus on the future, because I feel like I can take a lot of experience from these tournaments last year, but I don’t want to really hold on to that too much, because I want to go forward and focus on my next goals.”

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