The last 14 months have been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for Iga Swiatek, except that it hasn’t really slowed down yet.

Last fall she went into Roland Garros as the No. 54-ranked player in the world and went all the way to the title, making her the lowest-ranked woman to win the tournament in the Open Era. She was also just 19 years old at the time, and no one was really sure how she would follow it up this year.

In 2021, Swiatek showed she’s here to stay.

The Polish star captured her second and third career WTA titles at two of the tour’s biggest events—a WTA 500 in Adelaide in February and a WTA 1000 at Rome in May—and she clinched both titles in scary fashion, defeating Belinda Bencic in the Adelaide final, 6-2, 6-2, and Karolina Pliskova in the Rome final, 6-0, 6-0, the first double bagel win in the final of an event at the WTA 1000 level or higher since Steffi Graf beat Natasha Zvereva by the same score in the 1988 Roland Garros final.

She also broke into the Top 10 after Rome in May, went as high as No. 4 in the fall—which makes her the second-highest-ranked Polish player in either ATP or WTA rankings history, after former No. 2 Agnieszka Radwanska—and she was also the only woman to reach the second week of all four Grand Slams this year.

“Right now I feel like I made progress. By going step by step, I made it to the top,” said Swiatek, who finished at No. 9 on the year-end WTA rankings last week.

“Yeah, sometimes when I think about it, it’s pretty crazy. But when I’m living day by day, working hard, practicing, it seems I just made progress, and it’s pretty normal.

“It’s good sometimes to just sit and remember what road it has been so I can actually be proud of myself sometimes. Yeah, so it depends on my mood probably.”

POLISH PLAYERS TO REACH TOP 10 IN EITHER ATP OR WTA RANKINGS:
~ Wojtek Fibak (career-high No. 10 in 1977)
~ Agnieszka Radwanska (career-high No. 2 in 2012)
~ Iga Swiatek (career-high No. 4 in 2021)
~ Hubert Hurkacz (career-high No. 9 in 2021)

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At 20, Swiatek is the youngest player in the Top 10 of the year-end WTA rankings. The next-youngest is Sabalenka at 23.

At 20, Swiatek is the youngest player in the Top 10 of the year-end WTA rankings. The next-youngest is Sabalenka at 23.

Swiatek’s consistency in 2021, particularly at the biggest events, led her to her debut appearance at the WTA Finals. And though she didn’t end up making the semis, she certainly wasn’t far from it—after falling to Maria Sakkari in her first match she very nearly beat Aryna Sabalenka in her second match, then beat Paula Badosa in her third match, snapping the Spaniard's winning streak that began in Indian Wells.

“I hope my next time is going to be a little bit more lucky for me,” she said after her 7-5, 6-4 victory over Badosa. “I know in tennis you kind of have to wait for all of the factors around to kind of match, also your game to match it, so you can win the tournaments. There is a lot to think about during these tournaments.

“I just hope my next WTA Finals I’ll be playing more solid from the beginning.”

But before looking ahead too much to what's to come in 2022, there’s some much needed time off on the horizon for the 20-year-old from Warsaw.

“I’m looking forward to my days off,” Swiatek said. “I just want to chill out, not think about tennis. I don’t know, I want to live a different life for a week so I can really reset.

“Then I know that pre-season is not going to be long, so I’m not going to get bored staying in one place. We’re going to go to Australia soon. I’m just looking forward to talking with my team, talking about my goals, doing some different stuff at home.

“It’s going to be for sure relaxing for my mind.”

At 20, Swiatek is the youngest player in the Top 10 of the year-end WTA rankings, and by a few years too—Sabalenka’s the next-youngest at 23.