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Swiatek's unusual Roland Garros victory brings unusual title defense
The Polish teenager will face much diversity in her Roland Garros title defense, but she plans to take it all in stride.
Published May 13, 2021
The 19-year-old from Poland won her first Grand Slam at the French Open in 2020, with the event delayed four months and spectators limited because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, eight months later, she will return to defend the title. This time, the event has been delayed by a week and the crowds will be larger, though there are still strict safety protocols for players and spectators.
Not only is it going to be a new experience for Swiatek herself, it's also going to be different from what other players have experienced when first defending a Grand Slam title.
"The thing is that I don't know actually what to expect. I wasn't thinking about it a lot because, you know, really I don't know what's going to happen," she told press at Rome, where she is playing this week. "Actually, that's why I want to have my full team there, because I want to, you know, have as much support as I can."
But that's something Swiatek won't get to do, with French Open organizers having now announced that players will only get to bring two people with them to the event. Still, at least she knows who she''s going to choose among her team.
"I need my tennis coach and my physical coach who is also a physiotherapist, which is really convenient. With my psychologist I can also work online," said Swiatek.
One thing that will be the same as usual at the French Open are the courts, which Swiatek says were key to the success of her crafty game in 2020.
"Basically my perfect clay courts are on French Open, and I always felt that. Also in terms of balls and usually the conditions," she said. "When I'm playing in Paris, I always feel like I'm really controlling the ball.
"Yeah, the courts are obviously different...in Paris they are like softer, because the surface beneath the clay is different."
Swiatek also preferred the cool conditions of the delayed 2020 French Open, though there is the possibility of warmer weather this time around.
She did not play again for the rest of 2020 following her Grand Slam triumph, but has got off to a good start this season, reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open, taking Simona Halep to three sets, and winning Adelaide. She fell to No. 1 Ash Barty at Madrid in a third-round encounter before arriving in Rome.
In Rome, Swiatek has been struggling to find her peak form, but her winning ways have continued. She saved set points against Madison Keys in her second-round opener, and survived Barbora Krejcikova, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5, on Thursday, saving two match points in the process.