Iga Swiatek will become new world No1, at the age of 20, after opening win in Miami

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Iga Swiatek, whose triumph in Indian Wells last week confirmed her rise to world No2, will go one step further, to the very top of the ranks, after the completion of the Miami Open next week.

It will make her the first man or woman from Poland to become the No1 in singles and, at the age of 20, she will become the youngest player to top the WTA rankings since Caroline Wozniacki in 2010.

With the announcement by current No1 Ashleigh Barty this week that the Australian was retiring from tennis—and the WTA rankings—with immediate effect, Swiatek was assured of taking her place if she won her first match in Miami. She duly beat Viktorija Golubic, 6-2, 6-0, to score her 12th match-win in a row, and her 21st win of the year.

Swiatek was the Wimbledon junior champion in 2018—and doubles junior champion at Roland Garros the same season—and reached her first senior final the next year, when she also made the fourth round at the French Open.

Still a teenager, she went on to win her maiden title at Roland Garros in the autumn of 2020, without dropping a set, and rose from 54 to 17 in the ranks. It made her the youngest singles champion at the tournament since Rafael Nadal in 2005, and the youngest women’s singles champion at a Major since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004.

Her first 1000 title came in Rome last year, taking her inside the top 10 for the first time, and that qualified for the WTA Finals for the first time.

This season, the popular Pole—and she has already won the WTA’s Fans’ Favourite Award—has gone from strength to strength, reaching the semi-finals at her first two events, the WTA500 in Adelaide, and the Australian Open.

She went on to win back-to-back WTA1000 titles in Doha and Indian Wells, and arrived in Miami needing only one match-win to take Barty’s place as No1.

Mature and level-headed beyond her years, as well as articulate and charming, she has made herself a worthy successor to Barty, and she brings, all-court, crowd-pleasing tennis into the package, too.

She was, though, unprepared for a surprise presentation after her Miami win by former No1 Lindsay Davenport:

“For sure, like it hit me after the match, because I was so focused on the performance that I didn’t think about it during. But Lindsay Davenport, she’s such a great player, it’s a real honour to get not the trophy but the flowers from her.”

As for her achievement, she continued:

“It’s something I’m really proud of, and, you know, it’s a dream come true, for sure. It’s that kind of thing that I wanted to happen someday, but I didn’t really know that it’s going to be possible for me.

“I mean, I always believed in myself, but probably that I’m going to be No1, it was crazy for me before. Honestly, I just realised after Indian Wells that it may be possible. So I didn’t really have time to digest even being second. Right now being first, I think I’m going to need some time to reflect on that.”

Of her impact in Poland, Swiatek added:

“Polish fans continue to grow more and more passionate about tennis. It is amazing to see and one of my goals is to make tennis more popular in Poland… The support from home and all around the world has been great.”

For the immediate future, of course, she has the rest of the Miami draw to consider, and first up in Round 3 is American Madison Brengle, ranked 59, and with a 1-1 head-to-head against Swiatek, though Brengle’s win was back in 2018.

Swiatek switched straight back into business mode:

“I’m going to do the same stuff I have been doing for such a long time. It doesn’t really matter what ranking I have.”

Source: Sport Review


Author: Ellen Garcia