Iga Swiatek may not dominate tennis like legends of the game Serena Williams or Steffi Graf, believes Mats Wilander, as he highlighted a style of opponent that is causing the world No. 1 problems.
Though Wilander thinks there might be a theme to these surprising defeats, he also sees a silver lining to them.
“I think kind of the other way of what people are saying,” seven-time Grand Slam champion Wilander, talking to Eurosport’s Arnold Montgault, began.
“I think it’s great for Iga to not be carrying around this pressure of being this next Graf or Serena that’s going to just dominate on all the different surfaces.
“Maybe she will struggle on the grass court, maybe struggle on a fast hard court, maybe against one style of player that can hit the ball hard.
“Krejcikova is an inspiration in terms of the way that she is hitting a tennis ball because the way that she hits it is so clean and it’s so natural and it’s as good on both sides.
“When you look at someone like Rybakina, you’re looking at the same kind of consistency off both sides.
“When you look at Pegula, who took out Swiatek before that in the United Cup, she is the same kind of player, consistent on both sides and hitting the ball hard from both sides.
“I think the best thing for Swiatek is to be able to approach every surface, every match in the way that she always has, which is ‘it’s about Iga, but it’s also about my opponent, and I know that I’m one of the best players in the world, but nothing is taken for granted. I’ve got to show up’.
“I think when she plays really well, we tend to think about things that are way too big for someone as young as Iga.
Image credit: Eurosport
“She’s a great player, she’s a great champion, she’s going to win lots of Grand Slams in my book. But she’s a human. I think that she’s showing certain weaknesses in terms of mentality, certain frustrations, and if she doesn’t show that, she wouldn’t be the player that she is.
“So I think everything is very healthy for her. It’s just clear there’s a style of player that she will have to look out for on certain speed hard courts, and those players are very consistent and hit the ball very hard from both sides. That’s her worry.”
“I think it’s a good thing for her, and maybe even more importantly, it’s a good thing for the rest of the world,” Wilander said.
“So I think she’s putting it out there. Is it healthy for her? I’m not sure, but it certainly is inspiring for all other human beings that someone as good as her feels that she’s battling with it now.
“I think it’s very important that she realises that her weakness might be that part of tennis, which is dealing with the pressure from other people, or from the rest of the world, or from herself.
“I think that’s a healthy thing because it’s just like you’re saying, ‘my weakness is my forehand or my serve or my backhand’. She opens up the debate for maybe mentally not being as strong as she would like to be, so she’s working on it.
“So, again, I think it helps her in terms of the process. No one is perfect, and she knows what she has to work on, and when she gets it all right, she’s going to be winning 37 matches in a row, as she did last year.
“That’s the news for the rest of the professional world, is that when she gets everything right, she’s going to win everything on every surface. When she doesn’t get it right, there is maybe a handful of players that can beat her on hard courts.”
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