Swiatek after Indian Wells title: “Zendaya can practice with me any time”

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Iga Swiatek was treated to a special meet-and-greet after her dominant victory over Maria Sakkari in the Indian Wells championship match Sunday. Dune actress Zendaya joined the Polish WTA star to promote her new film Challengers, in which she portrays a tennis player.

Iga Swiatek with Zendaya
Iga Swiatek with Zendaya after the 2024 BNP Paribas Open final

Still riding the high of her victory, the two-time BNP Paribas Open winner was in great spirits and told the media, “Meeting Zendaya was crazy, but on the other hand, she’s a human like all of us. I was just happy that she’s enjoying tennis.” Swiatek added, “She can practice with me any time if she wants to.” The real-life tennis player takes none of it for granted, saying, “I feel pretty privileged that I’m in this place where I can meet these kinds of people.”

The four-time Slam champion is pleased with the big success and points that come with it fairly early in the season, “It hasn’t been easy after Australia, and I’ve been working hard to play well and to handle everything mentally well. I’m just proud of myself because of that.”

Mental strength and unshakeable confidence were key in top-seed’s run through the tournament, in which she did not drop a set: “You can’t control your thoughts usually. They will come. The question is how are you going to handle them and what are you going to do with them? But usually when you don’t want to think about something it’s going to start popping in your head anyway. It’s not easy to control that.”

Meeting with press after her disappointing defeat in the final, Sakkari was proud of what she accomplished and provided great insight into what it is like to face a player of Swiatek’s caliber. The world No.9 said, “When you play Iga, Sabalenka, Rybakina, all the players, Coco, Jess, you have like two, three chances in the match and you have to take them. If you don’t take them, then it’s ciao-ciao.”

In 2021, Sakkari had won her first three encounters with Swiatek, but lost the three played since then. Asked what changed, the Greek said “I think it’s that she has started working with Tomasz. She’s very different to what she was before. Obviously, she has had an incredible success the last two years and she’s a different player to when I beat her.”

Sakkari explained further, “It requires something extra for me in order to get back on that winning record against her. She just doesn’t miss as much as she did before, and she’s on top of it all the time, you have to be very aggressive… Elena knows, she has a big serve, she’s going to hit hard. Same with Sabalenka. They are all going to try to be aggressive with her. Nobody is going to stay two meters behind the baseline and grind with her because they have no chance.”

Time will tell, but the two-time Indian Wells runner-up Sakkari is convinced that she will claim the title in the future: “I like the conditions here. The bounce is high, the ball goes. I’ve played two finals and a semi in the last three years. I really believe that I’m going to get this one day.”

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