At Roland Garros,
The numbers turn. Opposing Russian Daria Kasatkina in the Roland-Garros semifinals on Thursday, Iga Swiatek has been on a crazy run of 33 straight victories since mid-February. If she wins the tournament this Sunday, the Pole, who has already qualified for Paris in 2020, will even break the record for consecutive successes for a 21st century player.
Orphaned by a real headliner since Serena Williams’ early retirement, women’s tennis may be finding its new boss. And that’s obviously good for Guy Forget.
A spectacular match
“Tennis needs ambassadors and managers, people who run the house. In men, we’ve been seeing it for fifteen years. But for women, it has been quite fluctuating lately. In football, if I tell you Messi, Ronaldo, we’ve been talking about them for fifteen years and they’re talking about their sport. It’s not always good to change every month. There it is starting to stabilize and I think it is fine “, says the extennista.
Heiress to the world’s number one sign since the sudden retirement of Australian Ashleigh Barty last March, Swiatek has fully assumed her status in the courts. “I love this girl, she has an amazing game and is good at women’s tennis. She is evolving the game, she is advancing a lot and she is far above the others “, enthuses Henri Leconte. “He has charisma, he can reach the public, he likes to play in front of people,” Justine Hénin told Eurosport in early April.
A committed player
But to hold the house, the results and the game are not enough. In a world as marketed as ever, you also need a strong personality capable of branding. And this is good because the world number 1, despite being 21 years old, has already started to assert itself and does not hesitate to get involved. Last October, he paid $ 52,000, his third-round earnings in Indian Wells, to a mental health aid association.
She has no hesitation in saying what she thinks on Wednesday at Roland-Garros where she has criticized Amélie Mauresmo, the tournament’s director, for her explanations about the lack of programming for women’s matches in the evening session. And since the invasion of Russia by Ukraine in late February, he has put a ribbon with the colors of Ukraine on his cap.
“We have to support Ukraine, there is much more important than sport,” insists the champion, who knows that her new number 1 condition exposes her. “I feel more pressure, more responsibilities falling on me. Because I still want to participate, but on the other hand, I know that when I do too much, my tennis could suffer. It’s very difficult, but I try to find the right balance.
She works her mind with a psychiatrist
To keep his head on his shoulders and not stretch too thin, Swiatek works full time with a sports psychologist. In a women’s circuit marked by the recent burnout of Naomi Osaka or Ashleigh Barty, the Pole has the services of her compatriot Daria Abramowicz who accompanies her to tournaments. A method that seems to work and could give ideas to other players according to Tatiana Golovin.
“When working on the mental and psychological aspects with the psychiatrist where she travels, she took on another dimension and believes in herself. It will be an example for many players who may realize that not only is it necessary to play tennis and be physically strong, there is also the mind that is very important “, says the former French player.
Rivals to find
Results, mental and physical in the lead, Iga Swiatek rolls in women’s tennis. But be careful not to crush everyone either to maintain a minimum of suspense and interest. “Obviously, it’s good to have someone up there in your sights. But you still have to have a rival, who doesn’t have one yet,” said DTN Nicolas Escudé.
“There have to be two or three players for there to be competition. This is how we manage to create great stories and get the audience to follow, ”confirms Golovin. Although Swiatek still lacks rivals, the Pole has everything to endorse the disguise of the head. However, a surprise at the end of Roland-Garros cannot be ruled out. Over the past eight years, the tournament has rewarded eight different players, including Swiatek, in 2020. It’s time to restore order.