In the hour of her greatest triumph, Iga Swiatek already suspected that her best time of the year was probably over.
After winning 35 tennis matches and six tournaments in a row and kissing Coupe Suzanne Lenglen for the second time in Paris, the world number one has to venture into unloved territory in the coming weeks: grass, my goodness!
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After the 6:1, 6:3 in the final against the American Coco Gauff and thus the second Roland Garros triumph within three years, the Pole has increased her self-confidence even more than she did before with her winning streak this spring.
But the very short lawn, where the balls bounce off flat and quickly, where rallies are rather short and where a good game of net is also important – no, that's not a surface on which Swiatek can play to its strengths.
"Tricky" was the word she found for the challenges of the coming weeks.
“Maybe his tips will be helpful”
Her coach Tomasz Wiktorowski is of the opinion that the 21-year-old could certainly win a few more matches: first at the Berlin lawn tournament, where Swiatek will lead the field next Monday as the top seed, then at the highlight of the season in Wimbledon, where she did not make it past the round of 16 last year came out.
"Maybe his tips will be helpful and I'll enjoy lawn tennis a little more," said Iga Swiatek when, as expected, she said "Au revoir" as the winner of the Paris clay court tournament.
But it sounded like this year's towering player was saying goodbye to her incredible winning streak, which saw her surpass the great Serena Williams and draw level with her older sister Venus.
"I've always wanted to set some record"
In the next few days, the Pole wants to lounge on the sofa at home in Warsaw and enjoy what has been achieved.
At her surprising first triumph in Paris, in 2020 at the age of nineteen, she would have felt like a lucky winner.
On the other hand, this time she was proud to have withstood the pressure as a favorite.
"The hardest thing is not to analyze everything too much and think about the whole numbers and bets."
Swiatek found it particularly special that she was in a better position with her 35th match win than the 23-time Grand Slam tournament winner Serena Williams: "I've always wanted to set some record." Even if the winning streak, as from the Polin himself expects to break soon: Iga Swiatek remains in a class of his own on clay courts.
Role model Nadal
Since her professional debut on the WTA Tour three years ago, she has only lost three of 35 matches there, this year her record is flawless with 16 wins.
Just as Rafael Nadal is the clay court king of tennis history, the Pole is becoming the Princess of Paris.
How fitting that "Rafa" is her role model.
She would have already found her dream palace in Versailles, where “Sun King” Ludwig the fourteenth had a magnificent baroque building erected.
Everything is so wonderfully symmetrical there, said the world number one from the trip on a free day of the tournament.
Although Iga Swiatek's style of play is strict, it is anything but glamorous.
She does her matches like shift work.
She keeps her opponent constantly on the move, beats a winner at the first opportunity, wipes her mouth with the sweatband on her wrist, and then moves on to the next task.
For the past few weeks, the Pole has been wearing a mostly teal dress, but she would also look good in overalls.
A boiler suit with a gold rim, of course.
"She knew how to seize her opportunities in the important moments," said 18-year-old Gauff after her first Grand Slam final.
In addition, thanks to her long-time sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz, Iga Swiatek manages to be less tense in a match than her opponent.
In the Paris final, only one man could have disturbed her usual calm: but when Swiatek was on the pitch, she had no idea that her famous compatriot Robert Lewandowski was watching in the stadium.
"Wow," said the Pole, "I hope he liked it and he'll be back." The opponents would be happy to see Iga Swiatek a bit fidgety.