Poland’s first Grand Slam singles champion Iga Swiatek insisted Sunday her expectations were low for the Australian Open, with the teen star keen to take the pressure off and focus on having fun.
The 19-year-old ensured her place in history by winning the French Open last year, crushing defending Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin 6-4, 6-1.
Back in Melbourne for the opening major of the year on February 8, she plays her first match since that breakthrough in the warm-up Gippsland Trophy this week after a fortnight of mandatory quarantine.
“Well, I’m not anxious, I’m mostly excited,” she said.
“Basically I have, like, some amount of stress, but it’s a normal amount.
“I don’t feel more pressure than before French Open. Actually, I’m kind of confident that I can play good tennis, but it all depends on my preparation, on my attitude.
“I’m trying to keep my expectations low, even though I did a really good pre-season.”
Swiatek, now ranked 17, admitted her life changed with victory at Roland Garros, going from a largely unknown teenager to celebrity status as the youngest woman to win in Paris since Monica Seles in 1992.
But the Pole, whose father Tomasz is a former Olympic rower who competed in the 1988 Games in Seoul, said she was embracing the extra obligations that came with stardom.
“It’s not bothering. It’s really nice. In Poland, it’s more often, but I’m really happy about it. It’s not a problem for me,” she said of the attention.
“Obviously I have more media obligations. Right now I feel like there are more eyes on me.
“But it’s not like something new for me because even though I didn’t win many tournaments before, it was step by step since I was 14. So it’s okay for me.”
Voted the most improved player at the 2020 WTA Awards, she attributed her run at Roland Garros to being relaxed and having fun, a trait she plans to take into the Australian Open.
“Actually right before the (French Open) tournament I had my own doubts and I didn’t know if I’m going to be ready to play my best tennis,” she said.
“I changed my attitude ... and didn’t think about winning, just focused on having fun on court, not all the expectations.
“Even though it seems really weird not to care before a tournament, sometimes it’s good because you can have this distance and you can see things not in an emotional way, but more rationally.
“Yeah, I’m going to try to do that (at the Australian Open), but I don’t know if I can just snap fingers and do it.”
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