Iga Swiatek vowed to keep the lid on her Grand Slam expectations despite tennis legend Chris Evert backing her to go on and win “at least 10 French Opens”.
World No 1 Swiatek claimed her third Roland Garros title and fourth career major, all in the last three years, with a thrilling 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 victory over Karolina Muchova on Saturday.
“She’s going to be in for the long haul, and I told her – you’ve won three French Opens, I won seven. You’re only 22, you’re going to go past that. You can go to eight, nine, 10,” 18-time major winner Evert said after presenting the Suzanne Lenglen trophy to the 22-year-old Pole.
However, Swiatek, after adding 2023 to her title triumphs in Paris in 2020 and 2022, was refusing to get ahead of herself.
“I’m not really looking that far. I don’t know what I’m capable of,” she said.
“I will work day by day to play the best game possible and to develop as a player. I’m not setting like any crazy records or goals for myself. I know that keeping it cool is the best way to do it for me.”
Saturday’s win meant she became the first woman to win back-to-back French Opens since four-time champion Justine Henin completed a hat-trick in 2007.
Evert, a seven-time champion at Roland Garros, believes that Swiatek already possesses the trophy winning appetite of the game’s legends who preceded her.
“I was just complimenting her on how she played with her back to the wall, and only champions can play like that when they are down,” Evert told Eurosport.
“There are players that are really hungry – Monica Seles, Steffi Graf, myself and Martina Navratilova, and I think Iga is the same type of person.”
Swiatek insisted she is not going to encourage speculation of a new era which sees her competing with Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, the Wimbledon winner, for Slams over the next decade.
However, a void does exist following the retirements of Serena Williams and Ashleigh Barty while fellow four-time Slam champion Naomi Osaka is out of the sport expecting her first child.
“I don’t really analyse that, because I know that this is something that kind of you guys created, and I understand that fans love that,” she said.
“I’m trying to just be focused on my work. And for me, there is no reason to do that. I’m kind of just focused on myself and I don’t care about the other two players.”
Saturday’s final was a two-hour 46-minute rollercoaster in which Swiatek coasted to a set and 3-0 lead before Muchova again dug deep into her playbook of tennis variety to push herself closer to what would have been one of the sport’s greatest comebacks.
In her semi-final win over world No 2 Sabalenka, she had been 5-2 down in the decider and saved a match point.
On Saturday, the 26-year-old levelled the match and carved out breaks for 2-0 and 4-3 leads in the final set before Swiatek hit back, taking the next three games to secure the title.
Despite the drama of the occasion, there was a degree of levity when Swiatek accidentally dropped the lid of the trophy onto the clay.
“Honestly I felt like I’m holding it with my finger, so I guess all these emotions caused that,” she explained.
“Sorry. I don’t mean to be disrespectful. I’m glad that Suzanne Lenglen trophy is fine and it won’t happen again probably, but we’ll see.
“I just hope I’m gonna have a chance to hold it again in future years.”
Karolina Muchova said she would use the “bitter feeling” of losing to Swiatek to drive her on to challenge for more Grand Slam titles after injury nearly wrecked her career.
“The feeling is a little bitter, because I felt it was very close, a close match,” said Muchova, whose previous best run before at a major came when she reached the 2021 Australian Open semi-finals.
“But overall, I mean, to call myself a Grand Slam finalist, it’s an amazing achievement. For sure big motivation for me to work in the future and to get a chance again to play for these big titles.
“I gave my everything on the court today, so I have nothing to regret,” said Muchova, who ended last year’s French Open in a wheelchair after suffering an ankle injury.
That followed an abdominal problem which sidelined her for seven months in 2021. Only last September, her ranking was outside the top 200, and she was told by doctors she may never play again.
But a breakout performance over the past two weeks has fuelled Muchova with fresh belief.
“Now that I know that Iga is World No 1 and I was so close, I think now that I can do it,” she said.
“I always believe when I go to the Grand Slam, but I believed in every Grand Slam I played before and I’ve never played final. So the belief is there, but that I actually achieved it, it’s a very nice and warm feeling.
“It’s good for the confidence. It says to me that I’m able to do this, to do these big results. It’s very motivational, and now I feel I can do it and I will for sure try to get there again.”