If there were fears that women’s tennis would lack power after Ash Barty’s shock retirementnew world number 1 Iga Swiatek did put them to bed.
Barty’s retirement at 25 in April left a huge hole at the top of the women’s game, with the Australian the most dominant world No.1 since Serena Williams in her prime.
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But with Williams hasn’t played since Wimbledon last year and other Grand Slam champions like Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep struggling with inconsistencies and injuries, it was feared that women’s tennis was becoming a basket case.
But Swiatek has done nothing but win since Barty called him up, completely asserting his dominance as the WTA’s newest force.
With her French Open triumph On Saturday, the Polish star won her 35th consecutive match and the sixth consecutive tournament she has taken part in.
The 21-year-old now has two Grand Slams and nine WTA titles under her belt, with many more on the horizon.
Swiatek hasn’t lost a game since Bartyretired unexpectedly and now holds the longest equal winning streak in women’s tennis this century.
The Polish star’s 35-game winning streak has kept her away from Serena, whose longest streak was 34 games in 2013.
Swiatek is now tied with Venus Williams, who won 35 straight games in 2000.
Only Roger Federer (42 in 2006) and Novak Djokovic (43 in 2011) have longer winning streaks since the turn of the century.
Swiatek is just the eighth woman in the Open era to win at least 35 consecutive matches, joining Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles and Venus Williams.
Navratilova holds the all-time women’s record with 74, followed by Graf (66), Court (57), Evert (55), Hingis (37) and Seles (36).
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Swiatek’s record in 2022 is 42-3, with one of those losses to Barty in Adelaide ahead of the Australian Open in January.
Barty also got the better of Swiatek at the Madrid Open last year, with the Aussie 2-0 in the pair’s only two encounters.
Asked about Barty after the French Open triumph, Swiatek said it would have been nice to test himself against the Australian star midway through his streak.
“I was thinking about it yesterday,” she said.
“I would like to be in better shape than when I played against her, just have more variety and more ability and win against Ash. That would be awesome.”
The 21-year-old revealed she had received a number of supportive text messages from Barty since the Australian star left him.
Swiatek’s lead over new world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit at the top of the WTA rankings is now a staggering 4036 points, setting her up for a long stretch at the top of women’s tennis.
“It was quite hard for me to believe that I was going to be world number one,” said Swiatek, the only Polish player in history to win a Grand Slam.
“Because logically, when you take my country, how many people succeeded, it was only Agnieszka [Radwanska] fundamentally.
“The probability of me becoming a tennis superstar was quite low. I like math and my brain usually thinks about probability, so I thought maybe it was not sure and it would be difficult to get there.”
Her dizzying rise to the pinnacle of tennis captivated fans and commentators alike.
ESPN’s Bill Connelly recently tweeted, “Ash Barty retires and Iga Swiatek immediately turns into 1988 Steffi Graf. Just ridiculous level of acting.”
It’s pretty hard to see her slowing down anytime soon.
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