Iga Swiatek – still only 20 – rose to the top spot of the WTA rankings at the Miami Open after her fine run of form to start 2022, coupled with Ash Barty’s retirement. Speaking to Eurosport, she says it felt “surreal and overwhelming” but that working with her mental coach Daria Abramowicz is helping her deal with the emotions she is experiencing.
Iga Swiatek says she felt “overwhelmed” at the whirlwind that accompanied her becoming World No. 1.
The 20-year-old Pole achieved the milestone in March at the Miami Open after an unexpected series of events that saw her win in Doha, Indian Wells and ultimately Miami, and also saw Ash Barty vacate the top spot in the WTA rankings after announcing her retirement.
And talking to Eurosport France, Swiatek revealed the extent of just what that period had been like to experience.
She said: “At the beginning it felt a little bit like I had to pinch myself. It was a bit surreal and overwhelmed me.
“But it happened during the Miami Open and I still had to concentrate on my tennis and on the next match, so that helped me to stay the same kind of player I was even before I became world No. 1.
“There were a lot of emotions but I had to postpone them to after the tournament so I could stay focussed and play well.
“I got a lot of messages. My phone, for three days, was like my birthday with messages from everywhere.
“A lot of people congratulated me. Ash [Barty] for example. She was one of the first people that texted me. Lots of players onsite too [in Miami], so that was very nice. Rafa [Nadal] texted me as well, and many people on Instagram or Twitter. I can’t even remember everyone.”
At such a young age Swiatek has had a lot to deal with, but she has a trusted ear – mental coach Daria Abramowicz – who is helping her deal not just with her thought-processes on the court, but also away from tennis.
The Pole said: “When I started to work with Daria in 2019, my main goal was to improve things on court. Being more focussed, control my emotions.
“But then it switched to talking more about my personal life, working on my confidence as a person and growing up, dealing with popularity, or the business side of sport. I feel we’ve been working on everything.
“Since the big thing happened, when I won in Roland-Garros [in 2020], I didn’t have time to chill out. I felt like I always needed to chase something. Prepare the next season. The big expectations. I won in Rome [in 2021], so again big expectations for Roland Garros and so on.
“And now that I’m No. 1, it only doubles. So it feels like we had a lot of work with Daria. She’s really helpful.
“It’s necessary for my team to take care of me. My coach takes care of my tennis, my physio takes care of my body, but I also need someone to be there for me when I want and need to talk.
“I want to have fun, play good, do the best I can. But I don’t want to lose my self. I want to enjoy my life on tour. So I’m trying to keep it cool.”