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Was Maria Sharapova right about Iga Swiatek’s 'perfect picture' on 'Break Point'?
At the peak of her powers, the WTA world No. 1 allowed Netflix cameras an insider’s look into her 2022 US Open title run—and it prompted one prescient question from the 2006 champion.
Published Jun 22, 2023
AS IT HAPPENED: Tennis Channel Live discusses Iga Swiatek winning the 2022 US Open
Hailed for her mental toughness and calm on-court demeanor, Iga Swiatek had revealed that she was beatable during the buildup to the 2022 US Open.
Amid a picture-perfect season that saw her rise to world No. 1 and win 37 matches in a row, Swiatek is the focus of Break Point’s “Under Pressure”, which also follows Frances Tiafoe during an intense fortnight in New York City. The series’ ninth episode showcases not just the stark contrast in their personalities, but also the differences in their approach to the game and life in general.
While Tiafoe’s charm steals the show—with the American’s girlfriend, Ayan, undeniably being the breakout star—it’s Swiatek, at the peak of her powers, that provides Break Point viewers with the most fascinating perspective.
When asked to name all the tournaments she had won in the season to date, Swiatek quipped, “You can check it on Wikipedia,” before eventually rattling off the names: Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome and Roland Garros. “Was that too much talking?” she asked producers with a grin.
But during the build-up to the US Open, Swiatek had struggled to close out matches and had posted early exits in Toronto, Cincinnati and at home in Warsaw—tournaments that barely get a mention on Break Point. But it was these new signs of vulnerability from Swiatek that prompted questions from former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova.
“Like a machine, she will do everything in order to be the best. I like that,” Sharapova says in a confessional. “But when you see a perfect picture of someone, when they show you that they have everything under control, do they really?”
It’s a sentiment that Swiatek echoes, too: “I feel like everybody is chasing me… I have a lot going on in my mind.”
Throughout the episode, the world No. 1 gives Netflix cameras a peek into how she deals with just that—and it involves more than just Swiatek serenely stacking Legos before a major match. Her team measures everything: “Her heart rate, quality of sleep” and “how she feels stress, what’s her mood” in order to know when to ramp up training and recovery or dial it down. The episode also features Swiatek’s various post-match debriefs with sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz, and a look into their dynamic.
Still, there are moments of levity, like a sequence showing Swiatek going for a haircut with Abramowicz in tow. As the 21-year-old signals her desired length to the hairdresser, Abramowicz cuts in to remind the pair that Swiatek must be able to tie her hair back during matches—prompting Swiatek to push back: “I refuse to subordinate my hair to sport, when everything else is.”
All of her mental toughness and preparation is put to the test in the US Open final, where she faces fellow Break Point star Ons Jabeur. Swiatek had opened up about her struggles to find calm amid the bustle of New York City—and it was indeed the crowd who threatened to derail Swiatek’s progress with shouting and heckling.
Blocking out all the distractions—including an accidental sighting of Friends star Matthew Perry in the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd—Swiatek eventually claims the victory, winning her second Grand Slam of the year.
“I feel like something surreal happened. It’s like a dream come true, and I’m 21. I should have more dreams, right?” she says afterward in a confessional.
“I feel like this is an achievement that you can enjoy for the rest of your life. So I’m looking forward to the rest of my life!”
While Swiatek’s dominance over the WTA hasn’t always been picture perfect, the Pole finished the 2022 season as year-end No. 1, with an impressive 67-9 win-loss record. And though the likes of Sharapova might question her longevity, Swiatek herself has shown no signs of slowing down. This year, Swiatek has extended her reign at the top of the rankings to 64 consecutive weeks (and counting), and lifted her fourth Grand Slam trophy at Roland Garros last week.