Securing the Indian Wells title and earning herself a first-round bye at the Miami Open, Iga Swiatek is in pole position to go for back-to-back titles, but it won’t be easy.
It’s no secret that 2022 Australian Open champion Ash Barty has pulled out of both the Indian Wells and Miami Open due to a prolonged recovery following the events at Melbourne Park, leading the world No.1 to take time away from the WTA Tour. Having won the last two Miami Open events in 2019 and 2021, Barty’s absence has left the door open for a new champion not seen in three years, particularly with the cancellation of the 2020 Miami Open due to the coronavirus pandemic. Iga Swiatek, who recently won the Indian Wells WTA 1000 event is looking to be the strongest candidate to take the title, though she will inevitably face some tough resistance along the way.
Iga Swiatek, the back-to-back specialist
Jumping the ranks to world No.2 following her triumph at the BNP Paribas Open in California just days ago, Iga Swiatek has the red-hot form to put on a great performance in Miami. The young Polish star went on to defeat top-tier opponents in the form of Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, and Maria Sakkari, displaying high-quality tennis on the hard courts of California. The Miami Open 2022 is set to take place less than a week from now, where Iga Swiatek will play her first match on the 25th of March on a very familiar surface.
More impressively still, Swiatek’s victory at Indian Wells had come off of a prior win at the Qatar Open, where the 20-year-old put on an epic performance to defeat Aryna Sabalenka, Maria Sakkari, and Anett Kontaveit en route to the title without having dropped so much as a single set. Having secured her fourth and fifth WTA singles titles back-to-back, the world No.2 is seeking her sixth career title in stylish fashion, looking to make it a third title in a row.
Iga Swiatek’s greatest obstacles
With public enemy number one Ash Barty out for the count, Iga Swiatek will be focusing on the remaining favorites such as Halep, Sabalenka, and Sakkari as she pursues another consecutive WTA title. While each of these players will prove to be a serious threat to the young Polish player, the reality is she has the edge over them based on their last encounters. In particular, Swiatek is showing some dominance over Sakkari after taking her down at both the Indian Wells and Qatar Open. Moreover, she has defeated Halep and Sabalenka in these tournaments as well, and most impressively of all is she has not dropped a set against any of these players in their last encounters.
Other strong contenders for the title would include the likes of Garbine Muguruza, who Swiatek has yet to have a head-to-head win over, as well as the teen trio Emma Raducanu, Leylah Fernandez, and Clara Tauson. Of course, many of these players have been outside the spotlight for some time and only Muguruza can boast a secured win over Swiatek, though this was their only encounter and quite some time ago. Taking in all of these factors, one can deduce the Polish star may well have the best chance at taking out the title, and whoever is able to stop her will surely have to pull off an upset win to achieve it.
A bright future for Iga Swiatek
With just one spot separating Swiatek from the world No.1 position, the 20-year-old is in pole position to take full advantage of Ash Barty’s absence from the Tour and claim the top spot. Should she secure the win at Miami, Swiatek will be in a very threatening position to break Barty’s 100+ weeks at world No.1 and possibly bring about a new reign of dominance on the WTA Tour.
The 2020 French Open champion still has a long career ahead of her and is showing early signs of a future great. Sporting a similar heavy topspin playstyle to her idol Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek is a lover of the clay surface, and with the next Grand Slam taking place at Roland Garros, her recent successes at these WTA tournaments could be foreshadowing even greater success to come in the near to far future.