(Reuters) – Preparing for success is as important as learning to deal with setbacks and it has helped Iga Swiatek seamlessly establish herself as the new world number one with a 23-match winning run, the Pole’s sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz told Reuters.
Swiatek went from being a largely unknown 19-year-old, ranked 54th in the world, to acquiring celebrity status after winning a maiden Grand Slam title at the 2020 French Open.
Following her Roland Garros triumph Swiatek repeatedly said that she found it extremely difficult to adapt to her new-found fame back in Poland and struggled to get to grips with the increased media demands and sponsorship deals.
But adjusting to the pressure of her latest career milestone – replacing retired Australian Ash Barty at the top of the world rankings – seems to have come naturally to the 20-year-old as she has shown during her current unbeaten streak.
“We are trying to build resources that help not only manage challenges in terms of losses or something that needs to be corrected,” Abramowicz said before Swiatek pulled out of the WTA 1000 event in Madrid with a shoulder problem.
“We also build resources for those moments when an athlete or a team achieves the goal. We are talking for many months now on how to manage potential success also.
“This is something that actually is interesting across society – people are not fully equipped to manage success sometimes. It actually brings more stress sometimes, maybe even a little anxiety in some cases, feeling insecure when they achieve the goals because they don’t know what’s next.”
Swiatek became the first player to win the first three WTA 1000 events of the season when she triumphed in Qatar, Indian Wells and Miami this year.
She also led Poland to November’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals with two singles wins in their qualifying tie against Romania this month before picking up her fourth consecutive title on Sunday when she won the Stuttgart Open final.
“Iga has more and more resources to be able to tackle more challenges that will come with being in this position,” Abramowicz said in an interview. “And I’m really proud of how she’s managing that so far.
“Obviously she will discover more challenges being not only number one in tennis, all the pressure that comes on court and stuff, but also being seen as sort of a leader of a sport, being seen as someone whose voice matters and that’s something that’s obviously new for her.
“I’m really excited and curious how she figures it out.”
Abramowicz, who travels with Swiatek around the globe during the tennis season, and coach Tomasz Wiktorowski were not with the Pole during her Stuttgart campaign.
The move was aimed at making Swiatek mentally stronger, more confident and independent and also to change the perspective a bit, Abramowicz added.
“She works hard in every single department of her career and path and that’s something that obviously excites me,” Abramowicz said. “But, for sure, the biggest challenge is just being able to keep up with that pace.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Ken Ferris)