August 12, 2022

PARIS — World No. 1 Iga Swiatek cemented her status at the pinnacle of the women’s game on Saturday after winning her second major title at Roland Garros. Swiatek wins 6-1, 6-3 over Coco Gauff was her 35th straight win and clinched a sixth consecutive title, bringing the 21-year-old Polish’s career title tally to nine.

Swiatek tried to ignore the numbers surrounding her three-month unbeaten run, but No. 35 meant more than she let on. The win meant she had amassed a longer winning streak than 23-time major champion Serena Williams, who had 34 wins in 2013. She also tied Swiatek with Venus Williams for the longest streak of the 2000s.

As spectacular as she is, Iga Swiatek did what we all expected of her

“Honestly, it might sound pretty weird, but to have this 35th win and to do something more than Serena is something special,” Swiatek told reporters. “Because I always wanted to have some kind of record. In tennis, it’s quite difficult after Serena’s career. So basically it really hit me.”

Barely into the sixth month of the year, the 21-year-old is already preparing for one of the most dominant seasons of the 21st century. She has already collected more wins than in any of her previous seasons and the wins have come with unassailable score lines. She has won 56 of her last 58 tennis sets and still hasn’t lost more than five matches in her last nine finals on tour.

What’s next for Iga? Swiatek joined the WTA Insider Podcast after her French Open victory and revealed her plans: snacks, rest and finding out what she has yet to prove.

WTA Insider: What was the most difficult thing in this title race?

Swatek: I would say just managing those days off. They seemed quite long and I often faced doubts. Also, I felt the pressure more when I was off the pitch and when I had a day off, more than when I was with the media or with the fans. So I’m quite happy that I had someone to talk to and my team had my back.

Also, this fourth round match was quite difficult because it didn’t happen often when I lost a set that I was leading 5-2. It doesn’t happen often and I was like ‘Whoa, what’s going on’? I’m quite happy to have worked on this.

WTA Insider: You told Rome the sky was the limit. When the sky is the limit, how do you set expectations?

Swatek: Basically, when I won Rome, I felt like the sky was the limit. But when I got here, I felt maybe the third round was the limit (laughs). So everything changes.

Of course, when I win, it’s easier to think that way. When I face obstacles, sometimes I feel like the streak may stop. But I’m pretty happy with how I approached that stuff and I kind of accept that and I’m ready for that. But I’m more ready to put my work into it and give myself 100% to not let it happen.

Honestly, coming here, I didn’t like a lot of expectations because I felt few players had won so many matches, so it would be pretty obvious for me to lose at some point in this tournament. But I just took it step by step. Day by day I lived and did my best and it happened.

WTA Insider: You said you didn’t watch stats during your streak, but you were aware of a stat. With 35 wins, you tied Venus Williams for the most winning streak since 2000 and have one more streak than Serena’s 34. Why was this a goal and how did it help you have something to pursue?

Swatek: Honestly, that wasn’t my target. I felt like I didn’t have full control over that, so I really didn’t want that to be my focus. But after the game, I checked. Doing something better than Serena is the best thing you can get in tennis, after what she has done for so many years. Nobody’s gonna take it from me, you know? I’m pretty happy that I was able to achieve this and I don’t even know how it turned out, honestly. It’s all pretty weird.

WTA Insider: You said grass isn’t your most comfortable surface. Winning Roland Garros, is that closing a chapter on the streak or are you taking it into the grass season?

Swatek: I think when I start Wimbledon, I’m just going to think about spending the first few games. I won’t think about the sequence because I know it doesn’t help me. I did the same here and I know how to separate my mind from that and focus on tennis.

But right now, for sure, I can think about it a bit more and I would like to add a few games to this streak. But I feel that this chapter is definitely closed for the clay season, but also after the Sunshine Double I didn’t really have much time to rest and I really want to rest now after Roland Garros. Because at the time, I was like I had three days off, but I couldn’t really stop thinking about the season. Right now I think I will have more time and I really want to do my best to rest.

WTA Insider: What do you want to do?

Swatek: Honestly, don’t force me to remotivate myself and pump myself up. Just relax and don’t think about the competition. I think that’s going to be enough for my brain to rest because I’ve been in a competition for so many days that just that, I’m going to enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be anything special. I’m not a party animal.

WTA Insider: Which is closer to being highlighted right now, your game on the court or your mental game?

Swatek: I would say in this tournament, mentally, maybe I was redlined because I didn’t recharge well after Rome, I think. I did too many things off the pitch and I wasn’t completely fresh mentally before the tournament started. I thought I could rest between games, which I did at the start of the tournament, so that was cool. Then those rest days got pretty awful because I was thinking about the next games and I couldn’t really relax.

But physically, I think it’s useful to have tried to be as efficient as possible and to play short matches. Here, I only had one match in two hours. Maybe if I had more, I’d be redlining. But physically I feel good. It’s also something weird. I’m working and we’re doing our best to get a good regeneration. But still…I don’t know. I guess my physio is a magician.

WTA Insider: You seem surprised that you’re doing all of this without redlining.

Swatek: Yeah. Honestly, for me, all the technical stuff, I don’t know how to schedule workouts. I don’t know what my body is capable of, because how would I know? I’m really happy to have people planning everything properly because without that, I wouldn’t be here. The hardest thing I would say in sports is planning things for your body to pull through.

WTA Insider: When you’re on top of the mountain, are you chasing something? Is there something or someone you set as a standard to motivate you to elevate your game?

Swatek: I don’t think I was 100% aware of it, but I think I always chased after that second Grand Slam because I always thought, ‘OK, the first one has arrived, but the second one is confirmation that you actually know what you are doing.’ I’ve always had huge respect for Garbiñe, Simona, there are a lot of players who have won two. All of these girls have been consistent for so many years and they were able to win twice or even more. I felt like winning a Grand Slam twice, you really confirm that you are capable of doing it. So I was kinda looking for that.

Now I don’t know what I’m going to hunt. I’ll probably hunt for some good snacks today, that’s all.