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No. 1 title, 4 Grand Slams: Can the 'invincible' Iga Swiatek win Wimbledon, too?

Updated on: 28 June,2023 06:01 PM IST  |  London
mid-day online correspondent |

Iga Swiatek is just 5-3 at the All England Club — compare that to her 28-2 mark at Roland Garros, for example — and those three losses came in the first round, third round and fourth round

No. 1 title, 4 Grand Slams: Can the 'invincible' Iga Swiatek win Wimbledon, too?

Iga Swiatek in action (Pic: AP)

The invincible Iga Swiatek is coming off her third title in the past four years on the French Open’s red clay. Last September, she won a championship on the U.S. Open’s hard courts for the first time. That’s also the surface used at the Australian Open, where she’s been to the semifinals.

And what about on grass courts? Wimbledon, which begins Monday, has been her least successful Grand Slam tournament so far. Swiatek is just 5-3 at the All England Club — compare that to her 28-2 mark at Roland Garros, for example — and those three losses came in the first round, third round and fourth round.

Swiatek, who has been ranked No. 1 since April 2022, offered a bit of insight on how she views her game on grass when she was asked in Paris this month about whether reaching the latter stages of a major is still a big deal to her.

“Well, it depends, because ... if I would (make) a quarterfinal of Wimbledon, I would be, like, over the moon,” Swiatek replied, “and I wouldn’t believe that I’m in that place.”

Poland’s Iga Swiatek returns the ball to France’s Alize Cornet during a third round women’s singles match on day six of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Saturday, July 2, 2022. Swiatek is just 5-3 at the All England Club, compared to her 28-2 mark at Roland Garros. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

So even though other players might concur with the sort of assessment Claire Liu, an American ranked in the Top 100, provided after facing Swiatek in Paris this year — “I’d say she’s good on pretty much any surface” — the subject of playing on the slick green stuff tends to bring certain sentiments to mind for the 22-year-old from Poland.

Two words she repeats when discussing grass: “uncomfortable” and “challenge.” And yet, let’s not forget: Swiatek was the 2018 junior champion at Wimbledon, so it’s not as if it’s a completely foreign surface or setting.

Also Read: Novak Djokovic loses Wimbledon top seed to Carlos Alcaraz, Iga Swiatek No. 1 in women's category

Still, she insists, “On grass, sometimes it’s tougher and I still have to learn a lot.”

“It just feels like you’re going to go on court and not play the way you ‘should,‘” she said, making air quotes with her fingers, “or the way you ‘could,’ you know? So this thing is adding more pressure.”

All of what she does so well on clay or hard courts seemingly should translate just fine to grass.

That big forehand of hers. The way she can defend so well. And, above all, the way Swiatek can think her way around a match, find an opponent’s weaknesses and counter her own with tweaks here and there.

There are, to be sure, other women who have already shown they can do well on grass and at Wimbledon. 

Players such as 2022 champion Elena Rybakina, 2022 runner-up Ons Jabeur, two-time winner Petra Kvitova, 2021 semifinalist Aryna Sabalenka.

But there are not a lot of folks who are going to doubt that Swiatek will figure things out at some point.

“It’s the power,” said Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2012 runner-up to Serena Williams at the All England Club and the only Polish woman to reach the singles final there in the past 85 years.

“There are other players hitting the ball very strong,” Radwanska said, before explaining that Swiatek’s heavy topspin gives her shots more of a chance of landing in with consistency, as opposed to the flat strokes that create more misses “to the fence.”

“That’s the difference,” Radwanska said. “A big difference.”

After watching her beat Karolina Muchova in three sets in the final at Roland Garros, French Open tournament director Amelie Mauresmo said she thinks Swiatek has what it takes to thrive at the All England Club.

“She has to make maybe one or two adjustments, maybe technically or in her game,” said Mauresmo, a former No. 1-ranked player who won Wimbledon and the Australian Open in 2006, “but I don’t see why, with her consistency, with her physical abilities and, of course, mentally — how she fights and how she gives a lot of trouble to the other girls — she wouldn’t be able to have a breakthrough there.”

(With AP inputs)

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