Iga Swiatek's title defense at Roland Garros ended on Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-4 loss to No.18 Maria Sakkari in the quarterfinals. The loss snapped Swiatek's stunning streak of 22 consecutive sets won at the French Open.
"Well, obviously I didn't play my best tennis, that's for sure," Swiatek told reporters after the loss. "But Maria did a good job with playing at my forehand, which wasn't working pretty well today. It's good for her that she saw that. She picked a good tactic, for sure.
"All credit to her because she also made me actually feel bad. That's what players do to each other. She did that better today."
Swiatek also said the past few weeks finally hit her Tuesday. She said she struggled to get even a few hours of sleep the night before her quarterfinal match.
"This year I had more pressure on me, but also I did good because I think quarterfinal is a good job," Swiatek said. "I'm showing consistency. Obviously I know I can play better than today. Everybody has seen that. I know I can play heavier balls and everything. But days like that happen. I didn't have day like that last year. Basically that's why I won.
"But the most important thing right now is to take lessons of it, not let it happen next time."
While Wimbledon is less than three weeks away, Swiatek said her next big goal is to peak for the Tokyo Olympics, which will be played on hardcourts at the end of July.
"[The Olympics] is my next goal because I don't know how I'm going to play on grass.
"I don't know if I even remember how to play on grass, so we're going to see how that's going to go. I'm not putting, like, any expectations or any pressure on me because really I just want to learn how to play on it. Probably I'm going to say that for few more years."
Swiatek was a junior champion at Wimbledon in 2018, but she'll be playing the main draw for just the second time in her career. Despite her junior success, Swiatek is keeping her expectations low for the next few weeks.
"When I was playing that year [I won juniors], I was so angry that I didn't win junior French Open that I kind of took it [out] on Wimbledon," Swiatek said. "I think physically I was better than my opponents, than any junior player there. My motivation to win any Grand Slam, my anger at French Open, it really gave me a lot. Also the conditions were special this year because it was really hot. The ball was bouncing basically like on clay.
"Still in 2019 I didn't have a good run on any of the tournaments on grass. Basically that's why I just feel like I'm not consistent there. I'm not even consistent in, like, 10% really. I think it's going to do me good to not have any expectations and just play."
Regardless of the quick turnaround between Roland Garros and the grass season, Swiatek's first priority is to check out of tennis for as long as she needs to refresh both the mind and body. Swiatek took a medical timeout to tape her upper right leg early in the second set against Sakkari, but assured reporters that it wasn't as serious as she thought it might be on court.
Swiatek is still in the doubles tournament with Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The duo will face Irina-Camelia Begu and Nadia Podoroska for a spot in the final. Swiatek dismissed any concerns that her decision to play both singles and doubles impacted her tournament. Her 2020 title run was paired with a run to the doubles semifinals as well.
"I can change so many things that really it's hard to say what was the problem," Swiatek said. "I don't think it was doubles. As I said from the beginning, it actually helped me."
As Swiatek hits the midpoint of her first full season on the pro tour - an astounding fact given she has already pocketed titles at the Grand Slam, WTA 1000 and WTA 500 levels - it is impossible to see the 20-year-old's 2021 season as anything less than a success so far.
Coming off her 2020 breakthrough, Swiatek has won 23 of 29 matches this year and is one of only four players with multiple titles. She has lost before the Round of 16 at any tournament just once. Playing under newfound pressure at the Slams, she made the second week in Melbourne and Paris.
"I had a pretty intense season," Swiatek said. "I played many of the tournaments, more than in my previous seasons. I'm happy with the results that I have, but also I'm constantly at work.
"For sure we're going to try to chill out a little bit, cool down, also find some perspective. Basically when I close my eyes, I only see tennis court and balls, so it's pretty tiring. For sure that fresh start after grass is going to give me a lot."