Iga Swiatek has been given the great honor of opening play on Centre Court on Tuesday. This slot is usually reserved for the previous year’s Wimbledon champion. However, with Ash Barty’s retirement, the Pole has been chosen to take the Australian’s place. Swiatek is the arguably the most dominant sports star in the world right now, and the Pole has ruthlessly cast opponents aside. She is currently on a 35-match win streak, tied with Venus Williams as being the longest win streak by any women’s player this century. Can this run continue at SW19?
The Streak so Far
The streak of Iga Swiatek started in Doha, where the Pole had to work hard for an opening round three set win over Viktorija Golubic. However, Swiatek would go on to win the title without dropping another set. Next, Indian Wells is even more interesting with regards to how Swiatek won the title.
Swiatek dropped the first set in each of her first three matches of the tournament, against Anhelina Kalinina, Clara Tauson, and Angelique Kerber. In each of these matches, the Pole dropped a tight opening set, before going on to dominate the match. The second half of the tournament was a complete contrast. Swiatek did not drop a further set on route to the title. In Miami, the Pole played astonishing tennis. Swiatek did not drop a set on route to the title, and none of her opponents could take more than seven games off her.
The clay would signal more dominance for Swiatek. The Pole won Stuttgart and Rome for the loss of only one set. A win at Roland Garros seemed an inevitability. In Paris, Swiatek blew her opponents away. Only Qinwen Zheng was able to take a set off the Pole, in the fourth round. The Chinese player and Danka Kovinic won eight games against Swiatek, the most of any players in the tournament. In the semifinal against Daria Kasatkina, Swiatek lost only three games.
In the final against Coco Gauff, the Pole only lost four games. What stands out about this achievement is not only the level of tennis, but also the extraordinary mental strength of Swiatek. Her ruthlessness and efficiency is something that only the greats of the game are able to produce. Heading into Wimbledon, Swiatek did not play a warm up event. This means that Swiatek is fresh and ready to go.
A Difficult Draw
If Swiatek is to continue the streak at Wimbledon, the Czech will have to overcome a number of tough opponents. The Pole is in the top half of the Ladies draw, which includes the likes of Serena Williams and Karolina Pliskova. The second week will be especially tough if Swiatek goes that deep. Jessica Pegula, Bianca Andreescu, and Garbine Muguruza are potential quarterfinal opponents. Potential semifinal opponents include Paula Badosa and Petra Kvitova.
I think that Swiatek can beat any of these opponents. However, the question is how much energy the Pole will have to exert, both physically and mentally. A number of players such as Pliskova have the weapons to trouble Swiatek. However, what is unquestionable in the confidence and belief of Swiatek. Regardless of who she plays, the World #1 has the aura of the streak and this will mean that some opponents may doubt themselves.
Whatever happens over the next two weeks, Iga Swiatek’s streak will go down in tennis history. The World #1 has proven that she is able to handle pressure and cope with the spotlight. Even if she fails to match (or come close to) Martina Navratilova’s all-time record streak of 74 matches, nothing can take away from Iga Swiatek’s incredible achievement.
Main Photo from Getty.