Indian Wells, Calif. -- Iga Swiatek can't quite wrap her head around what she accomplished at the BNP Paribas Open. On Sunday, the 20-year-old from Poland defeated No.6 Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-1 to win her fifth career title. Swiatek has now swept the first two WTA 1000s of the season; three weeks ago, she won Doha.
The win extended Swiatek's career-best WTA win-streak to 11 consecutive matches, as she boosted her tour-leading tally of wins to 20-3. On Monday, Swiatek rose to a career-high ranking of World No.2, matching Agnieszka Radwanska's mark as the highest-ranked Polish player in tennis history.
"It's pretty surreal for now," Swiatek told reporters after the win. "I have to look at it and I have to check the rankings by myself and just see it. Right now it's too surreal to describe it, honestly. But for sure I want to go higher because I feel like getting the No.1 is closer and closer."
Swiatek is now the first player since Caroline Wozniacki in 2009 to win five or more titles before turning 21, having won 2020 Roland Garros, 2021 Adelaide, 2021 Rome, 2022 Doha and 2022 Indian Wells. She joins No.1 Ashleigh Barty as the second player to win two titles this season, while leading the tour with four Top 10 wins.
Swiatek joined the WTA Insider Podcast to discuss her 11-match streak and the tricky conditions of the Indian Wells final. Listen to the full interview with Swiatek on the WTA Insider Podcast.
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WTA Insider: What's the most important thing that you take out of this successful fortnight?
Swiatek: Oh, it's hard to choose one, honestly, because this day has been crazy. For sure I felt a little bit more stressed for the last couple of days because this tournament is the biggest one after Grand Slams. So I'm pretty proud of myself.
I think the biggest thing I'm going to take from all these weeks would be [to] believe in myself, because it's not easy to believe in yourself when you're a perfectionist and when the competition is big. But I'm pretty proud of myself that I made it. I can't really reflect about everything because this day has been crazy. But for sure today I'm going to celebrate and tomorrow I have a day off, so I'm going to enjoy it.
WTA Insider: You're now 12-1 in finals across your ITF and WTA career and have won 10 consecutive sets. But is it safe to say this was the scratchiest WTA final you've played since you started your streak? It was very windy.
Swiatek: Well, I'm not an expert at handling that easily. The conditions are the things that you can't control so you have to let it go. But today I felt like I have to win ugly and I felt like we were both pretty tight at the beginning. So it was hard for me to actually play the things that I wanted to play and to play according to the plan that we had.
But I'm pretty glad that I was the one who was more solid because in these conditions the most important thing is to just, really, play the ball in. I felt like Maria had been risking a lot with her approach shots. For sure she was putting pressure on me, but still I managed to get the ball back. That's the most important thing for me, just staying in the rally today and not being the one who was making the mistakes. I didn't see the stats, actually, but I think we didn't have a lot of winners, right? So maybe this wasn't the nicest final, but for sure it's giving me a lot of experience.
WTA Insider: A year ago, you had trouble accepting the idea of "winning ugly" or finding a Plan B when you couldn't play your brand of tennis perfectly. Through the first three months of the season we've seen you find solutions in matches and embrace the challenge. Can you talk about that change?
Swiatek: That's true. I think just getting older and more experienced helped because really, a few years ago I didn't even get the idea of being happy about winning ugly. I was like, what? That's not possible.
But right now I want to use the experience of other players. I watched a lot of tennis in the past two years and I've seen many comebacks and many times where Rafa, for example, wasn't playing his best tennis but still he was finding solutions. The last match I can talk about was the Australian Open final, which was mind-blowing for me because I was honestly sitting in the stands and even I was like, Oh, I don't think he's going to come back, it's kind of impossible. But he did it.
That's a lesson for all of us that we got to keep pushing and keep fighting and keep wanting to get the solutions and getting better. I think these kinds of experiences and the huge inspiration that I get from players gave me a lot.
@iga_swiatek’s top-line results over the last 12 months:— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) March 20, 2022
Rome WTA 1000: 🏆
Roland Garros: QF
US Open: R16
WTA Finals: Qualified
Australian Open: SF
Doha WTA 1000: 🏆
Indian Wells WTA 1000: 🏆@WTA World No.2 on Monday. pic.twitter.com/9hnAOjvrFI
WTA Insider: This is the first time you've won back-to-back tournaments, let alone back-to-back WTA 1000s. What was the key for you to continue your success from Doha and maintain your level here?
Swiatek: First rounds were more shaky than usual. Especially with the conditions here and the differences that we had because Doha was so humid that it was even slippery on the pavement when we went out of the court. At the beginning of this tournament, I actually talked with my coach about learning how it is here and just getting the experience. And really, I didn't treat this tournament as something where I'm really able to play a semifinal here or have an actual top goal.
So I just took it step-by-step, really. I didn't put much pressure on myself because of the differences. Match by match, I felt like it was more and more possible and it just happened. I don't know. I just kind of went with the flow.
WTA Insider: On Monday you'll be the World No.2 behind Ash Barty. How do you wrap your head around that?
Swiatek: Well, the thing is that today's the first day I heard about it. Honestly, I wasn't really focusing on that. I didn't even know that it's possible at this tournament, so it's kind of a new idea for me. Also, ranking is never the goal that I want to reach, so I don't even know how to react.
For the next couple of days, I'm going to be really happy about it, but right now, it's pretty surreal. [Matching] what Aga Radwanska did, it means a lot for me.
But right now, it seems like being even first in the world is more possible because earlier I was like, OK, I'm going to be playing tennis, but maybe I'll be higher, maybe I'll be lower. But being first? Now, it's actually possible. So I gotta reflect on that a little bit more, but also keep doing what I was doing and not put pressure on myself.
WTA Insider: There are two sides of the coin. On one hand, there's the possibility of getting No.1, but on the other hand, you have a good bank of points already in your pocket.
Swiatek: For sure, especially after what happened last year with the Race and with not having control of how my opponents are going to play and if I'm going to get into the Finals or not. This is going to give me more freedom. But really, all the things involving rankings, I have to digest them a little bit for some time.