Pressure is on: It’s time for Iga Swiatek to defend her 37-match winning streak

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Last year’s Qatar TotalEnergies Open marked the start of Iga Swiatek‘s 37-match winning streak, ushering in a spell of domination that would bring six consecutive titles and the No.1 singles ranking. Now that the WTA Tour is back in Doha, it’s time for the Pole to defend her title in a draw that features seven of the world’s Top 10 players.

Iga Swiatek

Last year, Swiatek swept through the draw at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex for the loss of just one set, beating three Top 10 rivals along the way. Following the triumph in Doha, Swiatek also won titles at five subsequent tournaments — Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome, and Roland Garros, before her unbeaten run was ended by Alize Cornet in the third round of Wimbledon. The 21-year-old Swiatek reached the No.1 ranking after Miami and firmly held on to it ever since, further solidifying her Tour dominance with US Open and San Diego titles later in the 2022 season.

What’s the situation now? For a start, is Iga Swiatek mentally and physically ready to defend her points at the Qatar TotalEnergies Open?

So far in 2023, Swiatek’s confidence was shaken by losses in the semifinals of the United Cup to Jessica Pegula and in the fourth round of the Australian Open to Elena Rybakina. The weight of expectations did mess with her head in Australia, so it’s something she’ll try to control in the coming period.

Speaking about her disappointing result in Melbourne, Swiatek said:

I felt like I took a step back in terms of how I approached this tournament and I maybe wanted it a little bit too hard, so I’m going to try and chill out a little bit more, that’s all. I felt the pressure and felt that I don’t want to lose instead of that I want to win.

Has Swiatek managed to reset and chill out more? We’ll see on Wednesday, when she opens her Qatar TotalEnergies Open campaign against Elise Mertens or Danielle Collins, a very tricky player who upset Swiatek en route to the 2022 Australian Open final. If Swiatek overcomes the first hurdle, more big obstacles potentially await in the quarterfinals: newly-crowned Abu Dhabi champion Belinda Bencic or two-time Doha titlist Victoria Azarenka.

Regardless, Swiatek is guaranteed to spend at least 52 consecutive weeks as top-ranked WTA player, so she will surpass Victoria Azarenka as the 12th player with the most weeks at the No.1 singles ranking. Swiatek is currently spending her 46th week at No.1, the spot she climbed to on April 4, 2022.


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