Iga Swiatek ‘adjusting’ to having target on her back in 2023
Iga Swiatek has admitted that she is having to ‘adjust’ to the new pressure of having a ‘target’ on her back, after enjoying such a dominant season in 2022.
Chris Evert described Swiatek as the player to beat in 2023, and this is something that the Pole has spoken about as she attempts to become the first woman to retain the Indian Wells title since Martina Navratilova in 1991.
“I feel like there’s a target on my back a little bit, which I didn’t feel last year,” Swiatek said.
“It’s a different situation, and I have to adjust to that. So I’m trying not to read a lot of these things. I don’t want it to influence me because I’m happy with all the work I’ve done.”
The No.1 does not seem to be a fan of this change, “This is the example of how people’s attitudes changed a little bit – and I don’t think it’s a positive change – but for me for sure there is more pressure and expectations because of that.”
She added, “But I’m trying to [cope with] that in the best way possible. I think I’m doing good.”
Swiatek spoke of this pressure on social media, after losing the final of the WTA 1000 in Dubai to Barbora Krejcikova.
? A couple of words after two weeks of hard work, great experience and lessons. pic.twitter.com/lbisOT0OGp
— Iga Świątek (@iga_swiatek) February 27, 2023
Despite confessing to feeling the pressure more this season, Swiatek has only lost three of her 17 matches and dropped only five games on the way to retaining her title in Doha.
Former No.1 and seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander believes that some perspective is needed when people talk about the 21-year-old, “I think when she plays really well, we tend to think about things that are way too big for someone as young as Iga.”
He continued, “She’s a great player, she’s a great champion, she’s going to win lots of Grand Slams in my book. But she’s a human. I think that she’s showing certain weaknesses in terms of mentality, certain frustrations, and if she doesn’t show that, she wouldn’t be the player that she is.”
“So I think everything is very healthy for her. It’s just clear there’s a style of player that she will have to look out for on certain speed hard courts, and those players are very consistent and hit the ball very hard from both sides. That’s her worry.”
Swiatek’s three losses this year have come to Krejcikova, Elena Rybakina and Jessica Pegula, and Wilander believes that only a few players can beat the three-time Grand Slam champion when she is not on her game.
“That’s the news for the rest of the professional world, is that when she gets everything right, she’s going to win everything on every surface. When she doesn’t get it right, there is maybe a handful of players that can beat her on hard courts,” said Wilander.
Swiatek kicks off her Indian Wells title defence on Saturday, after receiving a bye to the second round, against Claire Liu who she beat five years ago in their only previous meeting.
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