Iga Swiatek still the ‘player to beat’ claims 18-time Grand Slam champion
Iga Swiatek is playing ‘better than ever’ according to 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert, as she attempts to become the first woman to retain the Indian Wells title since Martina Navratilova in 1991.
Swiatek has a 14-3 win-loss record in 2023, losing to only Jessica Pegula, Elena Rybakina and most recently Barbora Krejcikova in the Dubai final.
The No.1 won her 12th career title when retaining her crown in Doha, and Evert believes she is still the woman to beat heading into the sunshine double.
“I think Iga has shown in some matches that she has let her emotions get the best of her. So she would just have to be aware of that, I think. But she is still the player to beat, no matter what you say,” said Evert.
Evert continued, “She [Swiatek] will lose once in a while, but she’s still the player to beat, and she does have a target on her back. Nobody understands the pressures of being number one unless you are number one. Nobody understands that, and it does take a while to adjust.”
Swiatek, herself, commented on the pressure put on her by fans after her defeat to Krejcikova with a very honest post on social media.
“I can see that some of you have higher expectations of me, but well… I’m just human,” said Swiatek.
🙌 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
The expectations are incredibly high for Swiatek after dominating in 2022, winning two Grand Slam titles, four WTA 1000 titles and producing a record 37-match unbeaten run.
Evert thinks that the 21-year-old has what it takes to backup her dominant season last year, “I think she’s playing better than ever. That was obvious when she had that streak, she was just annihilating her opponents. Then she didn’t play as well against Pegula and maybe didn’t play as well against Krejcikova.”
She continued, “It’s like every once in a while she’s going to have a match where she’s not 100%, but I still think she is the most dependable player and the most consistent out there.”
Can Iga Swiatek retain the Indian Wells title?
Swiatek’s sights are now on retaining the Indian Wells title, which has not been done by any woman since Martina Navratilova won in both 1990 and 1991.
The 32-year wait for a repeat champion in the desert is the longest streak at any WTA 1000 event.
Here is the last time a WTA 1000 title was retained at every event on the tour:
- Qatar Open (WTA 1000/500): Iga Swiatek – 2022 and 2023
- Dubai Open (WTA 1000/500): Elina Svitolina – 2017 and 2018
- Indian Wells: Martina Navratilova – 1990 and 1991
- Miami Open: Ash Barty – 2020 and 2021
- Madrid Open: Simona Halep – 2016 and 2017
- Italian Open: Iga Swiatek – 2021 and 2022
- Canadian Open: Martina Hingis – 1999 and 2000
- Cincinnati Open: Serena Williams – 2014 and 2015
- Wuhan Open: Aryna Sabalenka – 2018 and 2019
- Beijing Open: No repeat winner since first staging in 2004
Swiatek receives a bye to the second round of Indian Wells this year, before facing either Claire Liu or Alison Van Uytvanck.
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