No 1 Swiatek learning to live with target on her back

Pole taken aback by negativity after losing in the final in Dubai.

09 March 2023 – 15:35 Rory Carroll

Indian Wells — Iga Swiatek says she is growing accustomed to the high expectations and harsh criticism that come with being the world’s top player and is feeling “good vibes” ahead of her title defence at Indian Wells.

It was a year ago at the tournament in the Southern California desert that the Pole began really to hit her stride amid a scorching 37-match winning streak. Since then the three-time Grand Slam champion has been the player to beat on tour.

“I feel like there is a little bit of a target on my back, which I didn’t feel last year. So it’s a different situation and I have to adjust to that,” she said at Indian Wells on Wednesday. “On the other hand I’ve been No 1 for almost a year so I already have enough experience to deal with it.”

Learning to tune out the critics is another adjustment she has had to make. The 21-year-old said she was taken aback by the negativity that came with her loss in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships in February after she successfully defended her title in Doha.

“I lost in the final and people were surprised — not happy with the performance — and just critical,” she said. “It made me think that last year, before this huge streak and before winning all these tournaments, I would have been so happy with the result.

“But because of these comments right now, I felt like ooh, that’s not enough. I’m trying not to read those kinds of things because I’m happy with the work I’ve put in and how I played in Doha and Dubai.”

She said it is an example of how the world around her has shifted. “There is more pressure and expectation but I’m trying to deal with that the best way possible,” she said. “And I think I’m doing good.”


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