Having taken the WTA Tour by storm as a newcomer last year, 2020 was set to be a crucial year for 18-year-old Iga Swiatek's on-court development.
The Polish teenager has rocketed from World No.175 at the end of 2018 to her current frozen ranking of World No.49 thanks to reaching the fourth rounds of Roland Garros 2019 (on her tournament debut) and the Australian Open this year, as well as her maiden WTA Tour final in Lugano last April. The on-court experience she had hoped to gain to progress further has been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic - but in an interview with Tennis Now's Chris Oddo, Swiatek has revealed the various ways in which she is continuing to develop at home.
In terms of tennis, Swiatek is dedicated to both mental and technical improvement - and it's the former that she has been able to work on with sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz even under lockdown. "This year I want my game to be more mature," Swiatek told Oddo. "We worked on me being more flexible on court mentally, and I think it's going pretty well. It's also cool because usually psychologists are just focusing on what's going on on the court but Daria is also working with me outside the court because... my whole life is influenced by how I play, and she's helping me." For her part Abramowicz zeroes in on "being mindful" and "managing the energy" as key areas the pair have been working on.
Iga Świątek is very into Lana del Rey and wants to "broaden her horizons" musically: “I have Lana del Ray every day. I’m a fan. Besides rock I’m listening to a lot of stuff. Right now I’m listening to soul from the 70’s I’m trying not to be focused on one thing and to develop."— Chris Oddo (@TheFanChild) April 28, 2020
Though the youngster has not been able to train on court under lockdown, Polish restrictions will begin to ease this week - and coach Piotr Sierzputowski already knows where he'll start when Swiatek picks up a racquet again. "Iga has a huge forehand but it's really mind-dependent, like if she believes in it or not - so we have to do a lot of repetition and a lot of technical, small stuff, which will give her confidence," he told Oddo.
In the meantime, Swiatek has been keeping herself busy by focusing on her education - both academic, as she completes high school, and musical, as she broadens out from her favored rock into '70s soul and daily Lana Del Rey.
Elsewhere, Grand Slam semifinalists Johanna Konta and Elina Svitolina have been branching out. World No.14 Konta has become the second WTA star to launch a podcast under lockdown following Daniela Hantuchova's DNA, which is focused around the inspiring people in the two-time Indian Wells champion's life. The Johanna Konta Podcast, available on Spotify, aims to be "a dose of relaxspiration" - a combination of relaxation and inspiration - and the first episode includes the Briton answering questions from fans as well as interviewing Harry Potter actors James and Oliver Phelps.
Svitolina's new project, meanwhile, is a health food blog based around "exciting new ideas on easy, healthy recipes" with a particular focus on superfoods. So far, The ES Club has covered some of the World No.5's favorite smoothies, as well as overnight oats and a "super snack" of tomato two ways. With help from her culinary friends, the Ukrainian promises much more to come.
In normal times, a tournament with a rich history due to be played this week would have been The Ojai, an amateur competition in Ventura County, California that counts Billie Jean King and Tracy Austin as two of its past champions - but it has been cancelled for the first time since World War Two. Former WTA World No.18 Stacy Margolin Potter won the event in 1979 - and has written a reminiscence of her journey to the title for the Ojai Hub. Playing as the No.1 for the University of Southern California, Margolin Potter battled fever - which "turned out to be beneficial", she writes, as she "didn't exert one ounce more energy than necessary" - and, in the final, close rival Kathy Jordan to take the title.