Iga Swiatek finishes 2022 as the year-end #1 after completing one of the better seasons in WTA history. The highlights were endless but she accomplished several feats showing how great her season was. A season’s ending points total of 11,085 was the second highest to end a season in WTA history, behind only Serena Williams in 2013. She won 37 straight matches over the spring and Ssummer across all three surfaces, the longest win streak since 1997.
Iga Swiatek: 2022 in Review
Slow Start and Retirement of Ash Barty
Swiatek began 2022 as world #9 which is fairly hard to believe considering where she ended up. She had yet to win a big title or make a major quarterfinal at a hard court event, so she was still not a serious favourite at hard court events. Swiatek made the semis in her first event of the year in Adelaide, losing in straight sets to Barty. She looked to be headed toward a rematch at the Australian Open, but fell in the semifinal, still her best result at a hard court major.
In March, Ash Barty shocked the tennis world by retiring after her Australian Open triumph. She was #1 in the world and the defending Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, leaving a massive void at the top of the game. It was fairly unclear who would step up as the next top player with the parity on tour, but Swiatek quickly made it clear that she would take Barty’s place.
37 Match Win Streak and French Open Title
Swiatek had yet to make a final in 2022 when she arrived in Doha, where her win streak would begin. She dropped just one set all week in five matches including three wins over top-10 players on the way to the title. She immediately proved her title in Doha was no fluke, winning Indian Wells with a dominant straight sets victory in the final. Swiatek only seemed to get better as she arrived in Miami, capturing her third title in a row and becoming just the fourth woman to complete the sunshine double. She did not drop a set in Miami and was never even taken to a tiebreaker. The Miami title took Swiatek to world #1 for the first time, as the season transitioned to clay, her favourite surface.
Swiatek continued her dominant form with a title in Stuttgart for her fourth straight trophy before she pulled out of Madrid due to shoulder fatigue. With many young players struggling with burnout, this was a crucial decision that likely had a positive impact for the rest of the year. She picked up where she left off in Rome winning another title without dropping a set. She came into the French Open where she had won before as the massive favourite and rightfully show. She stormed through her draw, losing only one set on the way to the final. In her first slam final since her victory in Paris in 2020, Swiatek looked like she belonged and dominated Coco Gauff start to finish for her second major title.
Disappointing Wimbledon and Sluggish Hard Court Swing
Swiatek came into Wimbledon looking to win another major title, though the speed of the courts neutralize her powerful baseline game. In her third round match, her winning streak finally came to an end against Alize Cornet, after making many uncharacteristic errors to lose in straight sets. Her win streak ended at 37 but it was truly remarkable. With the Wimbledon wins, it crossed three surfaces and included six titles. The streak was not just impressive for all the wins, but Swiatek was dominant and avoided close calls. From the Indian Wells quarterfinal through the French Open, she went 48-2 in sets during that span. Her streak was remarkable and solidified her place as the best player in the world.
While Swiatek made a smart decision by resting the week of Madrid, she challenged her body by playing on three surfaces in a month. After Wimbledon she switched back to clay for her home event in Warsaw, then came to North America for hard court events in Toronto and Cincinnati. Results did not follow with Swiatek failing to even make a semifinal in those three events and looking human again. She was still the likely favourite for the US Open, but her loss of form seemed to be a concern for the end of the year.
US Open Title and Strong End of Year
Swiatek seems to be made for the big stage, and immediately looked like the top player she is in New York. She lost just two sets en route to the final, where she faced her good friend Ons Jabeur, hungry for her first slam title. Swiatek was once again just too good, winning in straight sets for her first title on hard court, truly cementing herself as an all-around elite player. The US Open title was also Swiatek’s tenth straight victory in a final, winning all 20 sets in those matches, after losing only the first final of her career. Adding a major title on a different surface locked in the fact that she is the best player in the world and essentially confirmed her place as year-end #1.
Swiatek’s excellent finals streak was broken in October, where she reached another final in Ostrava but fell to Barbora Krejcikova in one of the matches of the year, a three set battle that Krejcikova came from behind to hold the title. If Swiatek took the loss hard, she certainly didn’t show it, winning her next event in San Diego, her eighth title of the year. She failed to capture the year-end championships after losing in the semis, but it was still a good result and an afterthought after the amazing year she had.
Iga Swiatek’s 2022 will go down in tennis history as one of the most dominant tennis ever seen. Eight titles and two grand slams, including winning four of the six WTA 1000 events she played. More impressive for those who watched her matches was how she beat opponents. She dominates most of the matches she played both on serve and return, with even top-10 players struggling to win more than a couple of games. Swiatek at her best is fun for fans to watch and see truly brilliant tennis. Many will be disappointed that Swiatek in peak form never got to play Barty. However, Barty opened up the top spot to a competitive tour, and Swiatek blew away all of her competitors to take it.
Heading into 2023, Swiatek will be the player to beat and the likely favourite in three of the four majors. She is still just 22-years-old and could dominate tennis for years to come. The WTA Tour overall is deep and has been erratic near the top so continued dominance is no guarantee. Swiatek does have the type of skillset where she should continue to have consistent results along with the mental focus to continue to improve and stay at the top. Her 2022 was historic and will likely lead to more of the same next year.
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