Iga Swiatek enters the second Grand Slam of the year as world number one and favorite for every tournament she enters while, a few weeks after her 19th birthday, Carlos Alcaraz rocked the top of men’s tennis.
Ashleigh Barty’s shock retirement just when she looked set to dominate women’s tennis may have left a void, but Swiatek, who won’t turn 21 until halfway through the French Open, has won successive titles in Doha, Indian Wells, MiamiStuttgart and Roma.
The Pole is not a new name having burst into the spotlight with a sensational run to the French Open title in 2020, but she has clearly stood out from the group of other great one-off champions of recent years with the how she built on her resounding success.
“I feel like a different player right now,” Swiatek said. “Last year, I feel like I’m still trying to find some kind of consistency in the wins I’ve had, and also confirmation that Roland Garros wasn’t just a one-off tournament.
“I feel like I’ve found that and I feel like I can move on and just focus on my next goals. Of course the tournaments I’ve been in this year have shown me that I can play tennis better on hard courts.
“The transition I have to make to clay is quite different because usually it was like ‘woah, clay, finally I can play well’. I still feel like my level was high, I hope I can enjoy tennis as much as I did all season.
Born in Warsaw, Swiatek has an athletic background, her father Tomasz having rowed for Poland in the 1988 Olympics.
She followed her older sister Agata into tennis and was one of the top juniors, winning the Wimbledon women’s title in 2018.
Swiatek grew up idolizing Rafael Nadal and her topspin forehand is the closest equivalent to the Spaniard’s in the women’s game, while her all-court play and clever point construction are also key weapons .
A talented student, Swiatek graduated from high school and even as a top 10 player, she considered delaying her tennis career to go to college.
Psychologist Daria Abramowicz is as important a part of her team as her coach and physio and has been key in helping Swiatek adjust to the increased expectations and pressure on her.
Those same expectations have now fully taken hold of the remarkable Alcaraz, who only needed to qualify at Roland Garros last year but are set to be a staple of the sport for years to come.
He has already won four titles in 2022, including the Miami and Madrid Masters, where he beat Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in successive matches.
Hailing from the southern city of Murcia, Alcaraz turned professional in 2018 and, under the tutelage of former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero, quickly announced himself as a serious talent.
Alcaraz already has a full game, with powerful groundstrokes and the best cushioning around, but the most striking thing about a player his age is his maturity on and off the court.
His best Grand Slam performance so far came at the US Open last year, when he reached the quarter-finals, but he is being touted as Nadal and Djokovic’s most likely challenger for the Cup. Musketeers.
Alcaraz does not hide his ambition, saying in an interview with Marca: “My objective until the end of the year is to try to win one of the three remaining Grand Slam tournaments. It is a great motivation for me and I will fight for it.
Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz ready to show that the future is here at Roland Garros
Source link Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz ready to show that the future is here at Roland Garros