The fans of the Polish sensation held their collective breath as World No. 1, Iga Swiatek, was forced to retire mid-match during the 2023 Italian Open in Rome. Swiatek's bout against Elena Rybakina was shaping up to be another spectacular encounter, but it ended prematurely.
The timing of the injury could not have been more unfortunate. As the reigning champion at Roland Garros, the injury puts a question mark on Swiatek's ability to defend her title at the fast-approaching major.
However, Swiatek's latest injury update has provided a beacon of hope for fans and followers, with her positive outlook suggesting a strong recovery and quick return to the WTA Tour.
"So basically during the second set, at the end in the tiebreaker, I felt pain in my right thigh. It was, like, pretty sudden. At the beginning I didn't really know if it was serious or not. We did an examination with the physio afterwards. It shouldn't be anything serious, so I'm pretty positive that I'll be back soon."
The sensation from Poland further explained the caution she exercised during the match. Acknowledging the strenuous conditions and her rigorous match schedule, Swiatek prioritised her long-term health over short-term victory.
"For sure I feel tired. Yesterday I think it was the right decision to stop playing because I felt pain when I was stretching, when I did, like, harder movements."
She made it clear that the decision to retire was based on an experienced judgment to 'play it safe' and not push her body beyond its limits.
"For me, the most important thing is to kind of play it safe and not exploit my body so much in such a difficult conditions, after having to play few matches in night session and after midnight."
Swiatek, however, did not shy away from critiquing her performance. She admitted losing her serve at a critical juncture in the second set and conceded that minor mistakes had a cumulative effect on her game. She also praised her opponent, Rybakina, for her resilience and powerful serves.
"I wouldn't say that anything changed at the end of the second set. For sure I lost my serve. I wasn't able to hold it to win the set. But also I served with old balls. I know what mistakes I did. There weren't, like, huge mistakes, but it was enough for me to lose the game."
"Yeah, I felt little bit more pressure then, but I was able to kind of recover quickly. I had many chances on Elena's serve later, but she really kind of fought back with great first serves. To be ready for Roland Garros I need to recover right now."
The young champion's pragmatism extends beyond her injury management. With a few days off before Roland Garros, Swiatek views her quarterfinal loss as an opportunity for recovery and dedicated practice.
"I'm going to take couple of days off. With my quarterfinal loss, I have also time to then practice right before the tournament. I'm happy right now to have few days off because since Stuttgart I wasn't really able to recover with that tight schedule that we have on WTA."