Swiatek's 75-week reign at the top of the world rankings came to a screeching halt following the 2023 US Open in which she succumbed to an upsetting loss to Jelena Ostapenko in the fourth round. That meant for the first time since March 2022, the WTA standings would have a different name at the summit.
It was Aryna Sabalenka who knocked her off the perch after reaching her second Grand Slam singles final in New York. The Pole, however, bounced back superbly soon after. A late-season surge by Swiatek yielded title wins in Beijing and Cancun, the latter being her first WTA Finals of her career.
Swiatek collected a maximum of 2,500 points in both tournaments, having gone undefeated at the year-end championships to swing the pendulum back in her favor. Sabalenka's reign at the top was short-lived and the 22-year-old from Warsaw managed to reclaim her throne.
Mouratoglou was happy to take a bird's-eye view of the race between Swiatek and Sabalenka which was decided in the final week of the season. The Frenchman claimed that Swiatek's confidence took a hit during the course of the season because her rivals managed to beat her regularly and attributed to the improvement by the Belarusian.
"There is less room between her and the other players. This year, we have to realize that Sabalenka did an incredible job. She improved a lot. She is very dangerous, and she threatened Iga a lot."
Sabalenka beat her in the Madrid final. Elena Rybakina defeated the Pole three times without reply this season. Coco Gauff earned her first win in what must have felt like an eternity in Cincinnati. Doubts started to creep into her game, and she became "threatened" according to Mouratoglou, who adds that it affected her confidence.
"She lost to Coco before the US Open. Of course, it played a role, because it hurt her confidence. I feel that Iga is someone who has a lot of doubts. But she takes doubts away with work, and work brings victories. But when she starts to be threatened, when she starts to be beaten a few times, it affects her confidence a lot."
The Pole has been very critical of her approach and mindset in the past but has tweaked a few aspects of her off-court preparation to enable channel her focus into developing as a player rather than obsessing over the ranking. Swiatek's dominance wasn't quite up to the standards of the 2022 season in which she won a career-high eight titles, the Frenchman stated.
"That’s why this year was more difficult, because Sabalenka really hurt her this year. It hurt her confidence a little bit, compared to last year when she was so dominant."
"She still ends the season with a Slam and the WTA Finals win, and being No. 1 in the world, so I think we can still talk about dominance. But it’s not as much as before. Now, the other players feel they can beat her. The year before, not so much."