'Perfectionist' Swiatek on high before Roland Garros title defence

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaUpdated: May 17, 2021, 10:33 AM IST


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"Everybody can play great forehands and backhands and be physically well, but the champion is going to be the one that is stronger mentally.

French Open champion Iga Swiatek warned she would not be satisfied with just one Grand Slam as she heads for Paris after claiming her first WTA 1000 trophy in style in Rome on Sunday.

The 19-year-old demolished world number nine Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 6-0 in just 45 minutes on the red clay of the Foro Italico.

"I'm surprising myself actually when I'm not doing well because I'm pretty ambitious," said the player from Warsaw, who was unknown a year ago, before winning her first career title in Paris.

"There are many players that regress after winning their first Grand Slam. 

"I always though try to be different. I'm a perfectionist."

Swiatek has now won three titles, following on from Roland Garros with Adelaide in January, and now Rome, and will move into the top 10 for the first time on Monday.

She showed no fatigue after back-to-back matches on Saturday, when she defeated two-time Rome winner Elina Svitolina and American teenager Coco Gauff and nearly three-and-a-half hours on court.

"Day after day I was feeling a little bit better," explained Swiatek, who had saved match points in the third round against Barbora Krejcikova. 

"Playing yesterday (Saturday) two matches actually gave me more than it would usually, because I would get tired, but this time I was in a rhythm and I could feel that. So it gave me a lot of confidence."

Swiatek travels with a team including a psychologist which she says has helped improve her game.

"I had good people around me, telling me not to really worry, and that sometimes it's the best idea not to care. 

"Everybody can play great forehands and backhands and be physically well, but the champion is going to be the one that is stronger mentally.

"I think mentally I was really in good shape today."

She swept through the first set in just 20 minutes, allowing Pliskova four points, dropping just 13 in total throughout the match.

Pliskova tried to fight back in the third game of the second set, holding double break points, but the Polish player ruthlessly snuffed out any return.

"From the beginning I felt that she may be a little bit nervous, and I wanted to use that and actually play as many games with that vibe as I can," said Swiatek. 

"But it's not easy to win the first set 6-0, because you always have in the back of the mind that your opponent may start playing better and they can change the tactics completely, and then you have to adjust and then you're going to start worrying."

She was so focused she had not realised her opponent had not won a game.

"When I was playing I didn't even know what was the score," admitted the 15th seed.

"When my coach told me it was 6-0, 6-0, I was, like, Really? Isn't that a mistake?" 

"I will just quickly forget about today," said Pliskova, the former world number one, who was playing in her third consecutive Rome final.

"She was having maybe a moment of her life

"But you can see her results on clay, they are great. It's not just like, you know, luck."