Swiatek “working hard to chill out” to boost US Open title bid

While the No 2 and No 3 seeds are already out, world No 1 Iga Swiatek says she’s been “working hard to chill out” as she prepares to face Sloane Stephens in round two on Thursday

Iga Swiatek US Open R1 2022 AI / Reuters / Panoramic

For most players, working hard usually entails doing hours in the gym or putting extra time on the court with their coach.

Iga Swiatek, though, is not most players.

The world No 1 thinks hard about life, about her game and what goes on, on and off the court affects her. Since winning the French Open in June, for the second time in three years, the world No 1 has struggled a little on hard courts, finding conditions in the United States not to her liking.

On the eve of the event the Pole spoke about how New York is not her kind of time, too loud a place for her to relax. But she’s also had to quieten her mind, it seems, to overcome complaints about the balls being too light for her to control and to get back to the basics of playing well when she needs to.

“For sure I’m closer to accepting than on two previous tournaments, so that’s pretty nice,” Swiatek said, after a confident 6-3, 6-0 win over Jasmine Paolini on Tuesday, which set up a second-round meeting with former champion Sloane Stephens, which will open the day session on Arthur Ashe on Thursday.

“I know the conditions are tough, but also just, you know, US Open being like fourth Grand Slam of the season, you can see that…we already played for like eight months.

“I think that you can feel more frustration. But honestly, it’s much, much better for me, because I did like hard work to really chill out. Right now it’s much better. But I’m also trying to kind of use that to not have so high expectations.”

Swiatek trying to find the right balance

With both No 2 Anett Kontaveit, beaten by Serena Williams, and No 3 Simona Halep, ousted by qualifier Daria Snigur, Swiatek’s position as favourite has been strengthened.

However, the Pole went into Wimbledon as the favourite, having won in Paris, only to go out to Alize Cornet in the third round. Since then, she’s reached one quarter-final in three tournaments.

Against Paolini, though, she looked strong once more and she was content with her performance, adding that she felt like she had “better rhythm than in Toronto and Cincinnati”. “So that’s great,” she said. “I’m trying to enjoy that.

“The week before, which was in Cincinnati, which was pretty tough, here was much, much better, and I got a lot of confidence just from, you know, practicing and hitting the balls in, actually playing better and better every day.

“I know in matches, being a little bit stressed and tight, it can get a little bit worse, but still, I feel like my level is just better. We’ll see if I’m going to hold on to that (smiling).

“I think just we did a huge work before the tournament to work properly but on the other hand also chill out and find a proper balance. So that’s the key basically, because, you know, tennis-wise for sure, week by week, it’s easier to get used to these balls.”

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