Is Swiatek's Dominance Over Or Is Latest Defeat Just A Hiccup To A Testing Season?

Is Swiatek's Dominance Over Or Is Latest Defeat Just A Hiccup To A Testing Season?

by Nurein Ahmed

Last updated

Iga Swiatek reigned supreme as the dominant force in women's tennis for 75 weeks, but tennis generally operates in cycles, and the rest of the WTA Tour are plotting to take over.

Since Ashleigh Barty's shock retirement in the first quarter of 2022, Swiatek became the World No. 1 for the first time in early April last year and lorded that ranking over her rivals. She tallied the third-longest streak as a first-time No. 1 with 75 weeks, trailing only Steffi Graf (186) and Martina Hingis (80) in that regard.

But 12 months on from her career-best season, the Pole's title haul reduced by half, and she's been unsurped from top spot by Aryna Sabalenka. With just a few weeks of the regular tennis season remaining, Swiatek has a mountain to climb to overturn the deficit at the top.

A closer look at the WTA Race, which depicts the accurate ranking of the current year, Swiatek is also in second place behind the Belarusian - trailing by at least 1,305 points ahead of the China Open. Her latest defeat to Veronika Kudermetova was a demonstration of Swiatek's crisis of confidence since losing the No. 1 ranking.

It is not a full-scale crisis, but Swiatek acknowledged she had been contemplating losing the No. 1 ranking in the build-up to the US Open and it weighed heavily on her. She admitted that the focus right now is on tournaments and not rankings.

Many tennis buffs on social media pointed out how Swiatek's armory was getting exposed. She was broken eight times in two matches at the Japan Open. Her forehand, which is such a reliable shot in her arsenal, lacked penetration and malfunctioned badly. Kudermetova enjoyed playing into Swiatek's forehand wing knowing how consistency slipped.

The term 'one-dimensional' is so harsh to paint on the Pole's game, but it has been floating around on social media platform X. Some tennis analysts feel her game is centered around hitting the ball 'harder' without marrying the technical and tactical aspects in her shots.

This couldn't be more true on how dismally she fared against Kudermetova in which she basically didn't have a plan B. She posted a whopping 50 unforced errors to just 18 winners. It was a microcosm of her season so far, in which Swiatek struggled to impose herself.

Maybe it is borderline inconsequential to make such rapid estimations and conclusions regarding Swiatek's form and her game. The Pole's camp remains unconcerned and a month's sample size feels rather obdurate to change their thinking.

She'll take lessons from defeats to Coco Gauff, Jelena Ostapenko, and Veronika Kudermetova and assess how she can mitigate a new cycle of dominance. But her rivals have all the momentum, and that is unlikely to change between now and the end of the season.


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