Iga Świątek has made the second week of a Grand Slam five times in a row dating back to the Australian Open last year. She already has a French Open title to her name and made the quarterfinal there last year. However, this is her first time going deeper than the fourth round on hard courts. That is significant because until now there have been very real doubts about whether she can translate her game effectively onto this surface. She showed in 2021 that she is good enough to be the rest of the field. The question is, does she have what it takes to beat the best of the best in the women’s game?
Clay Court Stats Show She’s Certainly Elite There
The Polish Superstar has a career win/loss percentage of 62% on hard courts. That’s good, but it’s not elite. The likes of Ashleigh Barty and Victoria Azarenka are both above 70% for example. So, if Swiatek wants to be winning multiple Grand Slams on multiple surfaces – and she does – she needs to prove she can beat the best in the women’s game on hard courts. She’s already shown she can on clay. Her record against players ranked in the top ten at the time of their meeting on clay courts is 5-1. She also has a career win percentage of 81% on the surface. However, that record against the top ten is worryingly different when it comes to hard courts.
The young star is just 1-5 against opponents ranked inside the top ten at the time of their meeting. That sole win was against Paula Badosa at the WTA Finals last year. The win came after the Spaniard had already qualified for the semifinals and so doesn’t count for much. Not much to point to then as far as hard court success goes. Nonetheless, her run to the semifinals here seems to suggest that she has found a way to take her game on hard courts up a notch. However, a closer look at her run to the semifinals shows that isn’t the case.
Kind Draw Means Swiatek Still Has A Lot To Prove
Swiatek has only faced two payers ranked inside the top 50 so far in Melbourne. Of those two, only Daria Kasatkina is a former top ten player. She has shown once again that she is better than the rest of the pack more often than not. However, she is yet to prove she can take on the best in the women’s game on hard courts and win consistently. However, if she can topple Danielle Collins in the semifinals she may get a chance to start doing exactly that. Ashleigh Barty, the world #1 and comfortably the best player in the women’s game at the moment (the two aren’t always synonymous), looks good to make the final in Melbourne. If she does, then it Swiatek will have a golden opportunity to prove that she is ready to take the next step.
Barty dominates their head-to-head as things stand. The Aussie took Swiatek’s Adelaide title off her at the beginning of this year. She is also responsible for Swiatek’s only loss to a top ten player on clay. In both matches Swiatek failed to win a set. However, she did show signs of life and both matches were competitive. Of course Barty must first get passed a red hot Madison Keys, and Collins will be no easy task for Swiatek. However, if the pair do meet in the final then Swiatek will be asked once again to prove she can take on anyone, on any surface, and win.
Signs Are Good That Swiatek Will Break Through Eventually
The Pole is yet to have the kind of sustained success she would like on hard courts. Nevertheless, Swiatek has much to be positive about. The young star is still only 20 years old. She’s already a top ten player in the women’s game and has plenty of time to continue improving. Equally promising is the fact that she has improved on hard courts year on year since 2019. last year she lifted a WTA 500 title on hard courts as well, showing she isn’t all that far away.
Her time may not be now, but it will be soon. The tireless commitment to improving that Swiatek shows on a regular basis makes that a certainty. She is too young, too talented, and too determined to be denied. She’s in with a good chance of winning this Grand Slam as things stand. However, even if she doesn’t she will certainly be contending for and likely winning more in the future, and not just on clay either.