18-year-old Iga Swiatek will be looking to put together a deep run at the US Open to cap what has been a breakthrough season. The Pole has compiled an impressive 34-16 record for the year, illustrating just how good her year has been. For context, world #1 Naomi Osaka has gone 26-10 this year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she has played her best tennis on the clay, making the final in Lugano and the fourth round of the French Open. That run in Paris was her best at a Slam to date, but it is one that she will surely have high hopes of bettering in New York.
Swiatek needs to build on early season hard-court consistency
Swiatek, who won the junior Wimbledon title in 2018, has shown throughout her fledgling career that she can play on both clay and grass, but hard-court form has proven more elusive. But after a slow start to 2019, which saw her lose to the evergreen Slovak Jana Cepelova in the qualifying in Auckland, Swiatek picked up some good wins on hard courts in the first half of 2019.
She dug deep to win five matches in Melbourne, reaching the second round after coming through the qualifying, though the nervous manner of her defeat there against Camila Giorgi will surely be a source of frustration. Particularly as she has shown similar signs of nerves and the accompanying unforced errors over the course of the North American summer hard-court swing.
Swiatek Needs to Focus on Standing up to Aggressive Play
In the Rogers Cup third round Swiatek won just 35% of the points against Osaka’s serve which compares most unfavourably to the 65% she won against Caroline Wozniacki in her second-round victory over the Dane. That was, of course, partly due to the fact that Osaka is a better server than Wozniacki, but it was also perhaps indicative of a concerning pattern.
That tightening up on return saw Swiatek fall to a tight two-set defeat and represented the chance to claim a big scalp missed. Other opportunities will surely come, but there is no disguising that abrasive players such as Giorgi, Osaka and Jelena Ostapenko have been able to cause Swiatek real trouble. The Pole’s patient, accurate hitting allows her to outfox and outlast more defensive players such as Wozniacki, but finding a way to counteract the bigger hitters is a must if Swiatek is to fulfil her considerable potential.
Ivana Jorovic first up for Swiatek at US Open
Swiatek is unseeded, but the draw has not been unkind to her. That said, the Serbian hard-court specialist Ivana Jorovic should present a real challenge for Swiatek in the first round at the US Open. She’ll need focus early on, as Jorovic could catch her unawares if she is not careful, with the Serb having won an impressive 17 of her 22 hard-court matches this year. Do not be surprised if it goes the distance. If Swiatek gets past Jorovic, Eugenie Bouchard or last year’s semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova will provide a stern second-round test. However, Swiatek will not be without confidence against either opponent.
Maria Sharapova or Serena Williams potential fourth-round opponents
For Swiatek, this year’s US Open is about making progress. A big milestone for her would be a first Grand Slam quarterfinal. A potential fourth-round with either Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova could stand between Swiatek and a place in the last eight. That would be a perfect barometer to measure Swiatek’s Slam credentials, against a player who knows how to win Slams. Swiatek will not be thinking about that just yet, but it’s a mouth-watering prospect. But in truth, whether she loses in the first round or manufactures a deep run in New York, it has been an excellent year for Poland’s Swiatek.
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