'She Deserved It': Swiatek On Rival Sabalenka Taking World No. 1 Spot From Her

'She Deserved It': Swiatek On Rival Sabalenka Taking World No. 1 Spot From Her

by Evita Mueller

Iga Swiatek finished the 2023 season as world number one on the WTA Tour, but she lost the rank briefly after the early exit at the US Open.

Swiatek had a tremendous 2022 campaign, winning several big events and securing her number one rank. That left a danger for 2023 as she had to defend all of those points. She failed to do that, opening the door for Aryna Sabalenka to become world number one after her tremendous rise.

The Belarusian had chances at several events to get it done but failed to do so until the US Open when an early exit from Swiatek finally guaranteed her the number-one rank. It wasn't that devastating for the Polish player who actually kind of embraced it.

She was relieved about it because there weren't any more questions coming. For weeks, she was bombarded about possibly losing that rank and she ultimately grew tired of it. And besides, she felt Sabalenka deserved it as per a recent exclusive interview with Eurosport.

She deserved it. She had a great season. She won a Grand Slam, was in the final of another Grand Slam and in two semi-finals, so it was an amazing season. I just preferred to focus on other things, because the pressure related to the No. 1 spot was a bit overwhelming in the middle of the season.

The pressure of keeping her number one rank impacted her and you could see it in her game. She was playing but not that well. In the interview, she used the word 'freely' which is a good way to describe it because everything seemed so tense.

"For this reason, I didn't play very freely until the US Open, and then I knew that I just had to change this attitude and approach the next tournaments differently, just be a different player who didn't focus on all that things. Although I always try to do it, but it doesn't always work out."

After finally losing that and refocusing on what matters, Swiatek finished on a high note winning an event in China and the WTA Finals as well. The latter allowed her to return to number one again.


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