Iga Świątek is dominating, while Jessica Pegula is hunting

Iga Swiatek
Mal Taam/MALT photo

Who would have predicted that Iga Świątek has won 44 of her last 45 sets? She is more than consistent as this is an extraordinary run. Plus, she is also cracking both side to side, and going for the winners, almost immediately.

She has made few errors, and she can immediately move one to figuring out how to play the next point. Her return is lethal, and her first serve has improved a tremendous amount. She has won 2020 Roland Garros and now, she is a gigantic favorite to win this year.

Even if she loses a game or a set, she doesn’t panic at all. Last year, she wasn’t as steady here and there, but now the 20-year-old Poland is focused.

“I was saying from the beginning that for sure I’m going to reach a point where I’m going to lose a match, and it’s pretty normal. I have been losing matches in tennis for a long time,” said Świątek, who has now won 30 matches in a row.

“For sure the things we are doing right now are pretty extraordinary but I know in tennis that only one person wins at the end. I will be okay with that. For sure it’s not fun to lose, but I think it wouldn’t be different than any other loss that I had in my career.”

In the off-season she worked with her coach, Tomasz Wiktorowski, who has long-time experience and he also knows that he has to be patient and understanding. Świątek is pretty young, but she really listens, and now, she is solid, on court and off.

“I think basically I changed some things, like I started being more aggressive and trying to be more proactive on court. That’s something that my coach really helped me to do,” she said. “But also, I think all the work we have been doing, even last season, it finally clicked somehow. Last season it was a year for me where I really gained so much experience. This year I feel like I’m using it the right way. I have this experience already, and I can just move forward.
So, I think it’s the physical work I have been doing but also with my psychologist, it’s the work of the whole team as well. I’m pretty glad that it clicks right now.”

American Jessica Pegula recently said that she loves the challenge on clay courts, even though it has taken her a long time to really get used to the dirt.

Up until the start of last year, she was up and down and  was out of the top 50. But then, she decided to hit the ball much harder and really go for it.

The 28-year-old reached the final at Madrid, falling to Ons Jabeur in three sets. You can see that she is surging each week. Currently she is ranked No. 11, and even if she loses, she just wants to play because she is addicted to sports.

“Look at [Roger] Federer,” Pegula said. “He could have stopped a while ago and nobody would have blamed him. He says he loves the sport. I feel like I have the same feeling. I’m very compassionate about it and I love to compete and I love the challenge and the grind of doing that.”

She has reached the third round at Roland Garros but she has never gone into the Round of 16. Next up for her in the third found is Slovenian Tamara Zidansek. In fact, even though Pegula has downed a lot of very good players this year, she also has yet to reach the semis at a Grand Slam. Maybe it is time.

“I definitely think I look more as, okay, this is a good opportunity for me to sneak through this section of the draw. Of course, you still have to win matches and stuff,” she said. “But to me, I think I like more playing that game in my head where it’s like, ‘Oh, this is a great little opportunity. Like, this person loses, I like playing this person.’ You see it kind of breakdown and then you try to work your way through. That’s really important, at least for me. I like looking at it but I don’t think I stress myself out about it. I think it’s more fun. It’s more, it’s how I set goals. I look at like chess.”

Danielle Collins, who defeated Shelby Rogers, can attack right off the service return. In January, she reached the final at the Australian Open. She does really like on the hardcourts, but two years ago at RG, she reached the quarters. Once again, if she plays fantastic, she can go even deeper…

Two former terrific players, Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova, both lost. Are they really fading, or are the other young players are becoming even faster and more powerful? Each year, they are just filler…

Another one, the two-time Grand Slam champion, Simona Halep lost on Thursday and she said that she was hit with distractions. That can happen to a lot of people, but in a match, good players keep focused.

“I didn’t know how to handle it, because I don’t have it often. I don’t really know why it happened, because I was leading the match. I was playing well,” Halep said.
“But just happened, and I lost it. I couldn’t focus. After the match, was pretty tough. But now I’m good. I’m recovered, and I will learn from this episode.”