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WATCH: Swiatek reached the BNP Paribas Open fourth round for a second straight year on Sunday.

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden watched Rafael Nadal pull off one of his greatest comebacks on Saturday, but few watched with greater interest than the WTA’s No. 3 seed Iga Swiatek.

“It inspired me a lot,” she said on court after pulling off her own Houdini act against Clara Tauson, dispatching the Dane, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 6-1. “I was thinking that if he could win against a guy who was serving that fast, and break him in the last few games, anything is possible.”

The 2020 Roland Garros champion wasn’t in quite as stick a situation as her Spanish hero, who roared back from 2-5 down in the deciding set to knock out American hope Sebastian Korda in a third-set tiebreaker.

An avowed superfan, Swiatek stuck around Melbourne to see Nadal capture his 21st major title following her semifinal exit in singles.

“I’m believing in myself and trying to do as he does.”

Still just 20 years old, Swiatek is only 18 months older than her teenaged rival but has seemingly lived a lifetime on tour since winning her own first major in the fall of 2020, playing a consistent sophomore season to qualify for the WTA Finals in Guadalajara and showing her mettle on all surfaces with a deep Australian Open run and WTA 1000 victory in Doha, extending her win streak to seven in a row after outlasting the No.29-seeded Tauson on Sunday.

Known for her steely focus and unshakeable perfectionism, Swiatek is starting to embrace the highs and lows a tennis match can supply, winning a pair of three-setters to reach the BNP Paribas Open’s fourth round for a second time in six months.

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If he could win against a guy who was serving that fast, and break him in the last few games, anything is possible...I’m believing in myself and trying to do as he does. Iga Swiatek on Rafael Nadal

“I’m getting pretty experienced at winning matches from one set down, so I’m pretty happy about that. In previous years, I would struggle with confidence after losing the first set, but right now I’m just focused on finding solutions.”

Prone to frustration when her uniquely struck shots fail to find their stick, she often struggled to regroup from disappointments in 2021: of the 14 matches where she lost the first set, she went on to only win three. In a turnaround all to do with turnarounds, Swiatek has already rallied from that same deficit four times out of seven this season.

A natural athlete, a mental switch has clearly been flipped, allowing her to turn the tables on a hard-hitting Tauson, who blitzed Anett Kontaveit in Melbourne last month for a major breakthrough win.

“I always felt physically prepared,” Swiatek explained. “It’s kind of like my main thing that I’m good at so I’m not really talking about that much. My conditioning coach back home is really experienced and really good. I think he’s doing a great job, so…”

She trails off and clicks her tongue in comic approval.

“I know he’s watching,” she rejoins with a laugh, “and he’s probably blushing!”

Swiatek is then interrupted by hecklers of a friendlier variety than what Naomi Osaka experienced last night, asking her to speak Polish. She graciously obliges before waving farewell to the Stadium 1 crowd, likely to begin preparations for a Round of 16 meeting with either Daria Kasatkina of Angelique Kerber.

For an athlete whose brand is one of a so-called “complete player”—there isn’t a shot she can’t hit and she’s flanked by a team built to address all aspects of her game—it all appears to be coming together in a way that can take Iga Swiatek her indomitable best.

We’ve seen false starts from the Pole before: she dominated the field in Rome last spring only to suffer a premature exit in Paris. But, to borrow a phrase from Swiatek herself, her sometimes flighty focus has become fixated on finding solutions, allowing her to lean on a lethal combination of athleticism and margin-friendly spin to carry her to impressive wins.

Undaunted by her own expectations, Swiatek is finding an oasis in the California desert, and may yet channel her idol once more in 2022.

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