Iga Swiatek – Unstoppable?

Iga Swiatek Miami
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Iga Swiatek is dominating the WTA Tour. The 20-year-old has won 23 consecutive matches, which includes four consecutive titles, she looks unstoppable. A second Roland Garros title beckons in June, can anyone stop her?

Swiatek became the first woman ever to win the first three 1000 level titles of the season when she swept all before her in Doha, Indian Wells then Miami. It’s not just the wins, it’s the manner in which Swiatek is consistently beating her opponents with such ease. The Pole has lost just one set in her last 15 matches, the single match that went the distance during that run was arguably her most impressive win as it showed her strong mental resilience to match her extreme talent. A gruelling 6-7 6-4 7-5 semifinal win over Ludmilla Samsonova in three hours and three minutes in Stuttgart, the longest match in her professional career.

Swiatek continues to annihilate her opponents in finals where she has conceded an average of 3.75 games per match during her recent run of four consecutive titles. This isn’t a new trend. Overall, Swiatek has won her last seven finals dating back to Roland Garros 2020 where she captured her first major title, dropping an average of 3.4 games per match during those seven finals. Swiatek’s ability to bring her best in the biggest matches is unparalleled.

How does she do it? Swiatek’s heavy forehand and supreme athleticism is simply unmatched in the women’s game, attributes that make her especially difficult to beat on clay. It’s a daunting matchup for anyone, not only can Swiatek dominate with her heavy groundstrokes, but she can defend as well as anyone. The scary part for Swiatek’s rivals is that we are only just moving into the Pole’s favourite part of the season. Swiatek has already won the two biggest clay court events on tour, Roland Garros and Rome and is an overwhelming favourite heading into those events in 2022.

Is there anyone that can stand in the way of the rampaging Pole over the next few months? Let’s take a look at some of her biggest threats.

Maria Sakkari: Sakkari stands out as the number one threat to Swiatek on a clay court. If anyone can match the heaviness of strokes and athleticism of Swiatek, it’s Sakkari. Moreover, Sakkari has proven herself in this matchup as she won all three of their meetings in 2021, including a 6-4 6-4 win at Roland Garros. Granted Swiatek has beaten Sakkari twice this season, but there’s still some demons in this matchup for Swiatek.

Jelena Ostapenko: Ostapenko is a threat to anyone on her day, plus she has proven herself on the clay having won a maiden major title at Roland Garros in 2017. Importantly, Ostapenko boasts a 3-0 head-to-head record over Swiatek. The Latvian defeated the Pole 4-6 6-1 7-6 in Dubai earlier this year in their most recent meeting. Ostapenko’s ability to take the match out of Swiatek’s hands because of her ultra-aggressive style makes her a unique threat.

Simona Halep: Halep might be beyond her prime, but she can’t be totally discounted at a major event on clay. The Romanian has been the most consistent player on the WTA Tour on clay over the last decade and is potentially rejuvenated heading into a new stage of her career under the guidance of Patrick Mouratoglou. Halep and Swiatek have built a decent rivalry of late, the head-to-head is level at 2-2, the Romanian pushed the Pole in their most recent clash at Indian Wells earlier this year. Halep is a threat to anyone on the red dirt, including Swiatek.

Barbora Krejcikova: Krejcikova hasn’t had a great 2022, injuries haven’t allowed her to. Nevertheless, the reigning Roland Garros champion poses a unique threat to her opponents thanks to her versatile, all-court game. Krejcikova showed what she is capable of on the clay in 2021 when she became the first player to win Strasbourg and Roland Garros back-to-back. The Czech pushed Swiatek all the way in Rome last year, losing 6-3 6-7 5-7, a result that shows Krejcikova is a threat in this matchup on a clay.

The grass court season is where we might start to see some vulnerabilities in the Swiatek game. Grass is the only surface where Swiatek hasn’t displayed dominant form, a unique surface that doesn’t necessarily suit her game. There will be a great opportunity to keep Swiatek off balance and rush her on a grass court. But for now, it’s hard to see anyone stopping Swiatek from adding a couple of big clay court titles to her collection in 2022.

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