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14 and counting, all on hard courts – inside Iga Swiatek’s torrid streak

The soon to be world No 1 battled through a tough first set then ran away from Coco Gauff in Miami for her 14th consecutive triumph.

Iga Swiatek Iga Swiatek (Panoramic)

It started as a struggle, and ended as yet another emphatic statement by soon to be world No 1 Iga Swiatek, who broke open a close contest midway through the opening set on Monday at the Miami Open and sprinted to the finish line to notch a 6-3, 6-1 triumph over 18-year-old American Coco Gauff.

The victory marks Swiatek’s career-best 14th win in succession, and the rising Polish star does not want her run to stop any time soon.

“I’m pretty happy that I can keep going with my good shape,” Swiatek said on court after the match. “Honestly it’s the first time that I have a streak like this, so I don’t even know where my limit is – but I try to think that there is no limit.”

She may be known as a clay-court talent, thanks to her breathtaking run to the Roland-Garros title in 2020, and her overall love for the surface. But Swiatek is a rising force on hard courts as well, and her ability to dominate on the surface should help her hang on to the No 1 ranking.

Iga’s torrid 2022 – By the Numbers

She’s dominating the hard courts – Swiatek may favor the red clay that she grew up on, but she’s playing flawlessly on the faster-playing hard courts. Swiatek is the first WTA player to win 13+ consecutive matches on hard courts in a single season since Bianca Andreescu in 2019.

Swiatek entered 2022 with a 33-21 lifetime record on hard courts. In 2022 she has put up a 23-3 record.

She has risen from No 9 in the rankings to No 1 in two and a half months – Swiatek got some help from Ash Barty’s retirement, but she had to do the work of passing the rest of the field that stood between her and Barty on January 3rd to get to No 1.

Here’s what the rankings looked like then:

Swiatek’s return game is off the charts – In 2021 Swiatek won 38.2 percent of her return games. At the start of Miami she led the WTA Tour by having won 53.5 percent of her return games in 2022. During her 13 match winning streak (prior to today’s win) she had won 69 percent of her return games.

She broke Gauff four times in eight return games on Monday.

She loves to make bagels – Swiatek has recorded six bagel sets in 2022, more than any other player on the WTA Tour. Swiatek has notched two bagels in Miami, and dropped just nine games through her three matches.

She’s better than ever in three sets

Swiatek entered 2022 with a 12-10 lifetime record in three-setters. So far this season she has gone 7-1.

Even more impressively, the Pole has already won five matches from a set down in 2022 (5-2). In 2020 and 2021 combined, Swiatek went 4-14 in matches in which she dropped the opening set.

The domination continued against Gauff

Swiatek entered Monday’s contest having won the aforementioned 69 percent of her return games over the course of her winning streak, but Gauff held down the fort early, saving five break points across her first three service games to get to 3-all. Swiatek’s persistence would be rewarded shortly thereafter, however, as the Pole broke for 4-3 and again two games later to claim the opening set.

Swiatek, who improved to 2-0 over Gauff and 4-0 in sets against the American, reeled off 10 of the final games, and 20 of the last 22 points to close affairs in one hour and 16 minutes. She will face either Veronika Kudermetova or Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals.

It has been an impressive run for a player who is experiencing the pressure that comes with rising to the top of the WTA rankings for the first time.

“It’s nice to see our No 1 playing so well, so appreciative, so proud to be there – she wants to keep improving that’s a great sign from a young player,” former world No 1 Lindsay Davenport said while commentating for Tennis Channel on Monday.

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