Five things to know about French Open semi-finalist Iga Swiatek
Very few players have attracted as much attention as Iga Swiatek at the French Open this year, with the Polish teenager having reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at Roland Garros.
The world number 54 has won countless fans with her tennis on the clay in Paris over the past fortnight which saw her drop just three games against former champion and title favourite Simona Halep in the fourth round, a performance many are saying was the best of the tournament so far.
Ahead of her semi-final against qualifier Nadia Podoroska tomorrow, we take a look at what there is know about the 19-year-old.
The Pole is the daughter of Tomasz Swiatek, a former rower who represented Poland at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988.
Tomasz wanted both his daughters to become athletes and Swiatek chose to play tennis to be more like her older sister Agata, who had previously taken up the sport.
Agata, three years older than the French Open semifinalist, briefly played on the ITF Tour as a teenager before injuries forced her out of the game.
Stellar junior career
Swiatek’s recent success may look surprising on paper, but she has been predicted to have a great career after excelling as a junior.
She was part of the Polish team that won the junior Fed Cup in 2016 before reaching the girl’s doubles final at the Australian Open in 2017, losing in the final alongside compatriot Maja Chwalinska.
A year later Swiatek would taste Grand Slam success as she won the girl’s doubles title at the 2018 French Open alongside Caty McNally, before she stormed to the girl’s singles title at Wimbledon just a few weeks later.
She proceeded to end her junior career with a gold medal in the girl’s doubles at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.
Polish sporting history on the line
Victory for Swiatek this tournament would not only make her one of the lowest-ranked Grand Slam champions in history but also the first Polish person to win a Grand Slam singles title.
The closest Pole to win a slam in recent seasons was the now-retired Agnieszka Radwanska, who lost in the Wimbledon final eight years ago.
Radwanska is the only Polish person to reach a Grand Slam singles final in the open era and if Swiatek was to win the title this week it could well be a watershed moment for Polish tennis.
Success earned the hard way
After her quarter-final victory over Martina Trevisan last night, a lot was made of the fact that Swiatek rarely received wildcards into tournaments despite a stellar junior career.
Several junior Grand Slam champions after often handed wildcards into tour events as they look to transition onto the main tour though this was a luxury Swiatek was rarely afforded, and she admitted it had been frustrating at times.
“It was pretty annoying at the beginning, if you’re from eastern or central Europe it may be kind of hard to get wildcards because we don’t have any big tournaments in Poland,” said the teenager in press yesterday.
“As soon as I accepted that and as soon as I realised it’s going to be even better if I’m going to earn it on my own, I was ok with that. I just kept working,” the Pole added.
Swiatek has become one of the most popular players on the WTA Tour over the past season or two, and that is in part down to to her engaging character and a rather mixed taste in music.
She has revealed that she has recently started listening to jazz music, though enjoys music from a wide range of artists.
The Pole has listed Pink Floyd and Lana Del Rey as two of her favourite musical acts, having also said she is using Guns N’ Roses classic ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ to get herself ready for matches in Paris this fortnight.
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