With the field for the second Slam of the season announced, 17-year-old Iga Swiatek will be pleased to be one of three Poles automatically in the main draw. This will be Swiatek’s second Slam, but this time, she does not need to qualify. Swiatek will turn 18 years old during the French Open (on May 31st). Monica Seles won the French Open at a mere 16 years old, but it would still be some feat, if not a record breaking one, were Swiatek to pull off the seemingly impossible.
Iga Swiatek is Molding a Clay Future
Poland’s Iga Swiatek clay season is progressing well. She reached the final at the WTA Samsung Open before losing in a tense battle to Polona Hercog. Breezing through qualifying in Prague, gaining more and more WTA level clay experience is just the tonic for Swiatek. She succumbed to Czech player Karolina Muchova in the first round there. A 7-2 record so far this season is sturdy form to take into her first Slam event on red clay at the French Open.
No Wild Card Assistance for Iga Swiatek This Season
The amiable 17-year-old Swiatek rose to prominence through an impressively mature performance when winning the Wimbledon Juniors title last year. Despite this, she has not been handed any favours or wild cards. 2019 saw the Pole regularly competing in qualifying stages, including at the Australian Open, where she earned her main draw debut. It didn’t stop there as she made it to the second round before being unable to deal with the power and precision of Camila Giorgi.
Red Clay is the Perfect Surface for Swiatek to Really Announce Herself on the Slam Scene
Swiatek did not attempt to qualify for Rome or Madrid and was not offered any wild cards. Therefore, the worry is that she goes into the French Open without any top-level clay exposure. However, she is well grounded enough to take it in stride.
A 41-7 win-loss clay record over the past two seasons shows an affinity for the surface. Last season, a lot of the Pole’s time was spent on the ITF/Challenger circuit honing her craft and gaining experience. This measured approach seems to be paying dividends. Swiatek has not tried to use her Wimbledon Junior Champion status to bag WTA wild cards. She has approached the demands of professional tennis with maturity. Her demon groundstrokes and ability to redirect an opponent’s power gives her the required weapons to go far in the French Open.
Swiatek’s Game is Growing in Potency and Maturity
Craft and humility have seeped through Swiatek’s game from capturing the Wimbledon Junior 2018 title, to making her debut WTA Final in Lugano and her seven ITF titles. Swiatek is right behind teenager Amanda Anisimova, who remains just a step ahead by virtue of having won a WTA title. The pair possesses the potential to forge a great future rivalry. However, Anisimova is predominantly a hard-courter and Swiatek prefers other surfaces, which may influence the outcome of their future matches.
Swiatek needs a good clay court Slam showing in order to build confidence going into the grass court swing. There, the Wimbledon Juniors 2018 Champion will return to the scene of her greatest triumph to date. The Pole is not uncomfortable on hard courts, but she does need to focus a little on adapting her game for the faster surfaces.
Make no mistake: Swiatek will be a dangerous floater in the Roland Garros draw.
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