PARIS (Reuters) – World number one Iga Swiatek is the overwhelming favourite for the French Open but says she is feeling relaxed and has nothing to prove as she prepares for the Roland Garros fortnight.
The Pole rocketed to fame when she won her maiden Grand Slam title in Paris in 2020 and has since reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open and reached top spot in the rankings.
The 20-year-old arrives in Paris on the back of an incredible 28-match winning streak having won her last five tournaments — proof that she fully deserves to have inherited the No.1 crown Ash Barty held until the Australian announced her shock retirement in March.
“I’m more relaxed. I don’t know about being nervous, because usually it comes closer to the match, so we will see. I’m going to keep you updated,” Swiatek told a news conference on Friday.
“But I’m more relaxed, because I have so many (ranking) points and I feel like my position in the WTA is already like, you know, I have worked for it.
“Already I’ve kind of proved to myself and to other people that I can be in the top of the game. Before I wasn’t feeling that much confidence, so this year I feel much more peace.”
Swiatek will start her campaign against a qualifier on her way to a potential fourth-round encounter with 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, the hard-hitting Latvian who was the last player to beat her, in Dubai in February.
Swiatek’s title defence ended in the quarter-finals last year at Roland Garros when the tournament was back in its early-summer slot after the 2020 was postponed until the autumn because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conditions this time will be far different to the slow and damp conditions that Swiatek mastered in 2020.
“They were different. The clay was more wet. Balls were pretty heavy. So it was different, for sure. It’s pretty hard to take experience from that,” she said.
“But for sure I’m taking the experience of the whole process, and playing seven matches in two weeks, having the routines. And also like getting to know how it is to go higher and higher in a Grand Slam.
“These kind of experiences help me not only for other Grand Slams but for many tournaments.”
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by Martyn Herman)