2020 Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek joins the WTA Insider Podcast after her stunning run to her maiden major title in Paris. The 19-year-old became the youngest woman since Monica Seles to win Roland Garros on Saturday, defeating Sofia Kenin, 6-4, 6-1, and became the first player from Poland to become a Grand Slam singles champion.
Swiatek won all 14 sets she played and dropped just 28 games over seven matches, the most dominant run in Paris since Stefanie Graf's 1988 run to the title, which saw the German legend lose just 20 games.
As Swiatek explains, this was a total team effort in Paris. From the tactical plans put together by her coach Piotr Sierzputowski, to the mental work she's done with sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz, to Swiatek's own flawless execution, hear how Team Swiatek threw down one of the most dominant runs to a major title in modern tennis history.
Listen to the full interview below:
WTA Insider: What was going on through your mind on match point?
Swiatek: Basically, during match point I kinda lost my focus for the first time during this tournament because I knew I was really close to winning this match and being a champion. I kinda lost my focus right before the point but I tried to come back and I did everything as I was doing in the previous matches because it worked. I knew that winning or losing was just going to be the effect. So I kept working hard and focusing on the smallest things that are going to lead me to victory.
WTA Insider: You said throughout the tournament that you were able to keep your focus throughout the fortnight by focusing on the small things and not getting caught up in the bigger picture. Now that it's done, has it hit you?
Swiatek: Actually no, it hasn't yet. I think it's going to hit me in a few days.
It hit me a little bit yesterday in the evening because I felt I was really close, but Sofia is playing a really great tournament and it's going to be so tough. Everything is new for me so I felt like there's a chance that I won't be able to handle it. But I talked to Daria about it and we worked that through. We came back to basics and we came back to doing the things I've done before.
It's easy to say to focus on your legs or the movement or the tactics, but I think the easy solutions are the best solutions. I've done what my team told me to do. I trusted them for the whole tournament. Because sometimes when Daria was talking about things like that I thought, oh it's too easy, I'm not going to win a Grand Slam just thinking about my legs. But I've done that. So it's working.
It's simply the best birthday gift of my life.— Daria Abramowicz (@abramowiczd) October 10, 2020
Najlepszy prezent urodzinowy w życiu. pic.twitter.com/cyOsc5cQmU
WTA Insider: You mentioned Daria. Today is World Mental Health Day and it's her birthday. In what way did you feel like the mental work you've done came through for you during these two weeks?
Swiatek: Obviously I wasn't consistent this year. Basically this was the first tournament that I felt I'm comfortable on court.
For sure I felt going back to tennis after the COVID break that my mental game is in the right place because I did a great pre-season during lockdown. That was the first time I didn't have any injury after pre-season so I felt like I must do some great success because I'm playing so well. Actually, that was really wrong.
It took me three weeks in the States to realize that. Then I kind of needed to rest because I did some huge mental work, so we went back to Warsaw. It was better but also I had my expectations really high.
I think I changed everything just when we came here. I realized being in that wrong mindset isn't going to help me. But also I felt that I don't have the power to change my way of thinking. So I also needed to understand that I can change anything in my mind in, like, 30 seconds and it's going to be better. So I did that.
My first match I wasn't really confident because of the things I had to work through but it got better every day here. After the Round of 16 win over Simona I felt like I'm in the right place mentally and right now. I can win with anyone.
🙈Lesson learned...— Iga Świątek (@iga_swiatek) October 4, 2020
I can't even describe the feeling. It was a blast and I'm still a little bit amazed. Thank you @Simona_Halep for the match.
Lekcja odrobiona. Jestem jeszcze odrobinę oszołomiona, ale bardzo dziękuję za wsparcie!🙈#quaterfinals #rolandgarros #stepbystep pic.twitter.com/S0QqmJs7Bh
WTA Insider: It's one thing to see you play as an underdog and swing freely against Simona, but then to switch gears and have to play as the overwhelming favorite in the quarterfinals and semifinals, and then to switch gears again to play a reigning major champion in your first Slam final. You keep saying I just kept doing the same thing. You make it sound easy and it can't be that easy.
Swiatek: It's not easy because you have to always be aware of what you're thinking on court. It's not easy because you have to be super focused to not let your mind fly away.
I mean, the hardest thing was just believing that it can actually lead to a good thing. Sometimes I used to think too much and analyze things for an hour, the smallest things that I thought. When I started to believe it's not that hard and that easy solutions are going to work, it was easier for me.
But in the beginning, trust me, during the US swing we were talking every day for an hour, what to change, how to think, when really, the easiest things worked. So it's pretty weird but it's true.
WTA Insider: When did you realize how good of a tennis player you could be and what had to happen for you to realize that potential?
Swiatek: Well I never realized that. There wasn't one moment. But also I realized that sometimes I felt bad and sometimes my confidence level was just really low and then I thought I'm not going to make it. Actually I had some thoughts like that at the Western & Southern after my loss in the first round.
So even though I knew I have potential and I knew that I can win big tournaments, because I won junior Wimbledon in 2018, I still had my doubts. I think I knew in the back of my head that I can do pretty nice things on court, but also it's hard for me to be confident all the time.
So right now I'm going to focus on that consistency. I want to believe in myself for the whole time and for every tournament. So we're going to work on that because I know that it's weird that you can win a Grand Slam and lose in the first round in Rome or Western and Southern. So I really want to be consistent.
I think for my whole career, the junior Wimbledon taught me a lot, the whole experience. I think back then during this week I actually felt almost the same as here. I just felt like I could do anything. I just want to have that feeling on every tournament and be more consistent.
WTA Insider: Your coach Piotr told reporters you have great instincts on the court and sometimes technique and tactics don't matter to you. You can put the ball where you want to put it. What does it look like when you're playing on instinct?
Swiatek: I'm aware that I have great instincts but actually in this tournament I think the tactics helped me a lot. Sometimes I just don't think and I just play my game because usually I know where to play and I have my own idea of how it should work.
But to be honest, in previous tournaments even though Coach Piotr told me tactics I tend to do exactly the opposite. In this tournament I trusted him and I did 100% in every match what he told me. I think to get the success you need to have to have a mix of instincts and a mix of smart game and tactics to achieve something. I know I have instincts and I know that I should work on using tactics a little bit more. I think in this tournament I did everything pretty well.
WTA Insider: How are you going to celebrate the victory?
Swiatek: Right now we're going to go to a restaurant. I don't know if we're going to celebrate my win or Daria's birthday, but we're just going to sit and think about the two weeks and cry about how tired we are and how we want to go back to our hotel rooms. But we're going to sit in a restaurant and we're going to eat a cake. But actually, Daria doesn't know about that so don't tell her.
But I think we're going to celebrate more after we're back home and we rest a little bit and we see how crazy it is in Poland.