STUTTGART, Germany – Iga Swiatek wants to entertain you. The World No.1 made that clear once again at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, where she extended her winning streak to 23 consecutive matches to win her fourth straight title.
Swiatek came into her first clay event of the season fresh off a dominating performance for Poland at the Billie Jean King Cup but her commitment to the national competition meant little time to get her adjustment to clay.
Just four days after her last hard-court match, Swiatek played her opening round in Stuttgart and proceeded to defeat Eva Lys, Emma Raducanu, Liudmila Samsonova and No.4 Aryna Sabalenka to win her third clay-court title. Her 3-hour and 3-minute win over Samsonova was the longest match of her career, earning a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5 victory.
“Well, this is another tournament where I surprised myself,” Swiatek told reporters after the win. “That I can do it and basically that I don’t need to be 100 percent perfectly prepared or I don’t need to feel 100 percent to still play really good tennis and play solid matches. The transition was pretty quick and I had a lot of doubts. I just didn’t want to really focus on that and I just focused on what I have influence on. So, yeah, this is another tournament that has shown me that I can do it no matter what. “
The World No.1 joined the WTA Insider Podcast to try and wrap her mind around what she’s achieved over the last nine weeks before discussing her love of cats, confetti and memes.
Listen to the full interview with Swiatek below.
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WTA Insider: You said in your press conference that you had a lot of doubts coming into this tournament. What were those doubts and how did you address them throughout the week?
Swiatek: Basically the last time I played on clay was a year ago, so I wasn’t sure how well I was going to transition and whether I could actually do it in two days. Before the first match I think I spent two hours on court. I always heard that this surface is tricky and it’s weird and different than any other. So that’s why I had most of my doubts, basically.
I’m pretty proud of myself that during the tournament I was able to adjust and to learn, because before it wasn’t that easy. Right now I feel like during I can learn a lot so it’s just more peaceful at the beginning because I can trust my skills and my abilities a little bit more.
WTA Insider: Do you feel like you’re on autopilot?
Swiatek: Not really. Today it was a good day for me to be in the zone and be really focused, but yesterday I felt like I need to put more and more work in every game to stay focused. So yesterday I didn’t feel I was on autopilot because every day is different. You wake up and you can feel that. Many thoughts are running through your head and you know it’s going to be harder to stay focused.
So yes, I still feel like every day is different and some moments are tricky. So I don’t feel like I’m on autopilot, but for sure I feel like I can use my skills better and better and play more efficient tennis and be more smart on the court.
WTA Insider: You were in Stuttgart without your coach Tomasz Wiktorowski and sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz. But your father and fitness coach were here. What was it like to navigate going to a new tournament, with unique conditions, without your full team?
Swiatek: Honestly, all these things are something I have to adjust to, but on the other hand, they are letting you play without expectations because you know that it’s different and you know that you can make some mistakes and you have to accept that. So even when everything is not perfect it’s kind of easier to play because you’re going to forgive yourself if you’re going to make some mistakes. You’re going to say ‘Hey, it’s my first time here, stay cool, let’s just gain experience.’ But still, you have to do the work. I think I did that good this week.
It didn’t matter for me if my whole team is here or not because on court I’m by myself anyway. But for sure at some points, I felt like I was missing some of the people I lean on. But tactically I could prepare the same way because my coach, we had daily talks about how I’m feeling here and what I could do better. He has so much experience from being on tour and being so many times here being with Agnieszka, so I really wanted to use that.
Daria was also talking to me. We had a few sessions this week, must overall about the clay season and my feelings here and how I can shift my focus from all these doubts to actually working harder and finding solutions and maybe being excited about having the challenges that I have. So we worked a lot on my attitude. They’re working really hard even though their bodies are not here. So all credit to my team because without them I would be really confused here.
WTA Insider: Do you have a sense that you’re doing something special right now?
Swiatek: When I let myself not be a tennis player but be someone who’s observing tennis, I can feel that.
WTA Insider: What were you doing to pass the time this week?
Swiatek: I just got one day off. I wanted to have some peaceful time in my hotel room because before I had Billie Jean King Cup and then I had to practice here and think a lot about the surface and analyze a lot. So I used this day off to rest properly and not be occupied by all the stuff that is going on. The amount of media and autographs I’ve done since Doha has been kind of crazy. For sure having this one day off helped me recover better. I’m not saying it’s a negative thing. It’s just new things you have to do.
WTA Insider: It was a sold-out final and we saw a lot of Polish flags flying. Are you used to your stature with fans?
Swiatek: I am kind of used to it, but still I want to use it the right way in matches when I have the right situations. I saw before some matches where players took a lot from the crowd and they could come back in matches. But it’s pretty easy for me because I always wanted to play for people and it’s natural for me to be in front of the crowd. The first few matches after Covid it was pretty hard to focus properly but honestly, I love it.
WTA Insider: Are you excited about taking home the Porsche Taycan?
Swiatek: Yes, for sure. It’s a pretty weird position that I’m in because I just did my driver’s license six months ago. I’m super excited. It was a great week because I got to learn a lot about the cars and getting excited and fascinated by other stuff than tennis. It’s something new because for a while I was just occupied with tennis.
My physio knows a lot about cars so he’s going to help me choose the proper one. I don’t know if you know that, but I’m not really good at making decisions.
WTA Insider: So I have to ask you about the water bottle spill during the semifinals. What happened there?
Swiatek: It wasn’t water, so I’m lucky it didn’t go to my shoe because it was going to be sticky. There were carbs and I wanted to shake them. For a second I didn’t know what is going on. I saw the cameraman and I thought, ‘Shoot, he must be laughing.’
I know there’s a nice GIF of that on the internet. That’s also entertainment. I’m pretty happy that I’m entertaining to people.
WTA Insider: You’ve become a bit of a meme queen on social media.
Swiatek: Honestly, I was already a meme queen at my middle school. But that was pretty mean from the other kids. But I was. Maybe that’s another thing I was born to do. I don’t know if I should be happy or sad about that.