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Swiatek on the end of the streak: “I’m not going to be hard on myself, it was kind of logical”

The world No 1’s defeat was a shock but not a surprise, given her lack of experience on grass

Iga Swiatek, Wimbledon 2022 Iga Swiatek, Wimbledon 2022 © Antoine Couvercelle / Panoramic

The streak is over. Let the next streak begin.

Iga Swiatek was in contemplative mood after her Wimbledon hopes came to an end in a state of confusion on Saturday, her racquet refusing to follow orders in a 6-4, 6-2 loss to France’s Alize Cornet.

After 37 consecutive wins, a run which saw her win six titles, including the French Open, Swiatek was well beaten by Cornet, who repeated her feat of 2014, when she beat the then world No 1 Serena Williams.

In her winning streak, Swiatek was so dominant that more often than not, she was dishing out bagels or breadsticks, her opponents never even threatening her. Swiatek had only dropped two sets, after all, since Indian Wells in March.

Swiatek mostly rested after Roland-Garros

At Wimbledon, Swiatek never looked entirely comfortable. With no competitive preparation as she rested following her French Open triumph, Swiatek could not figure out the nuances of grass and by the time she’d been beaten by Cornet, she was thoroughly confused.

“Well, basically the thing that I changed this season is I started being more and more aggressive,” Swiatek said. “It was really comfortable for me to have the initiative and be proactive. But here I couldn’t control the ball. So I needed to slow down a little bit.

“I was kind of pushing the ball, which sometimes was actually okay. I played like that since 0-3 in first. But then in second set, yeah, I kind of made few attempts to speed up again, and didn’t work out. I didn’t come back to being solid. When you play aggressively and you suddenly change the way you play, it’s not easy to keep that. Yeah, so I got a little bit confused.”

I started being more and more aggressive this year, but here I couldn’t control the ball. So I needed to slow down a little bit.

Iga Swiatek

Seeing Swiatek unable to figure things out was an unusual sight. This is the woman who has dominated the Tour in 2022, and taken the mantel of world No 1 in her stride ever since Ash Barty retired in March.

When the wheels came off, as they did on Saturday, she was unable to set things right, maybe unable physically, maybe unwilling mentally to dig deep enough to do what was required. Cornet, meanwhile, was playing inspired tennis, which just made the result more predictable. The only thing that was unusual was the way she described her feelings on court.

Iga Swiatek in action during her second round, Wimbledon 2022. © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Swiatek confused by Cornet’s game

“Well, usually when I’m coming back, I have some kind of a plan and I know what to change. Here I didn’t know what to change. I was confused,” Swiatek said.

“On grass court everything happens so quickly. I can’t just use my topspin and put back these balls and just run the point and hope being solid, sometimes pushing the ball, is going to give the right effect.

“Here I didn’t have any idea. I didn’t tank it, but I just didn’t know what to do. I was just kind of, hope that it’s going to go in, but I did many mistakes. I didn’t even want to get angry again because I was kind of frustrated during my practice week and in second round. I didn’t think it’s going to help me. I didn’t really know what to do. That’s all.”

Underneath it all, Swiatek probably knew this was coming. The signs were there in her three-set struggle in the previous round against Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove of the Netherlands and she had openly expressed her doubts and insecurities about grass. This is a result that will be disappointing but the hurt may not last too long.

Let’s just say that I didn’t feel like I’m in a best shape. So I’m kind of aware that this could happen.

Iga Swiatek

“Usually I am hard on myself,” Swiatek said. “Here, I know how I felt before matches, I know how I felt when I was practising. Let’s just say that I didn’t feel like I’m in a best shape. So I’m kind of aware that this could happen. Maybe it’s not the right attitude to have, but it is like it is.

“I tried many things to feel better on court, on grass court, but it didn’t really work out. That’s why I’m not even hard on myself because, like, it’s kind of logic that if I couldn’t find it even on practices, I’m not going to find it on a match.”

But let’s get this in perspective. It’s only her fourth loss of the year; she’s won six titles, a second Grand Slam title and is head and shoulders clear at the top of the world rankings. Few players will ever get close to winning 37 matches in a row.

Swiatek doubted she would have done any better with a warm-up event

“I hope this is going to be the thing that I’m going to be proud of,” she said, of the streak. “I mean, right now even I am satisfied with this streak, so I’m happy that I was able to do that.”

Swiatek said she doubted she would have done any better, had she played a warm-up event, having decided not to play in Berlin. Against Cornet, it was obvious that she’s still coming to terms with playing on grass and even more obvious that there was little left in the tank, physically or mentally.

So what she needs now is a break. Swiatek can now take a proper rest, away from the court, to recharge her batteries. Don’t expect to see her play another tournament for a month. When she returns, she’ll be fine.

I don’t know if I should even have hope. Maybe it’s just easier to take it easy and see what grass is going to bring me.

Iga Swiatek

And eventually, Swiatek will figure out grass, too. Perhaps when she just lets it happen, instead of over-analysing it.

“I mean, so many things clicked this season that I think anything is possible,” she said. “For sure I didn’t have as much belief as on other surfaces. Maybe this is also the reason. Maybe this is something I should change next year.

“I would say coming into the grass season, yeah, I had belief that this year is going to be different because maybe I did so much work overall that maybe it’s also going to have some impact here.

“I got disappointed a little bit, so I don’t know if I should even have hope. Maybe it’s just easier to take it easy and see what grass is going to bring me.”

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