TORONTO -- Iga Swiatek is looking forward to getting back on hard courts, and there are few places better than the National Bank Open for her to kick off this stretch of the season.
The tournament was a breakout for Swiatek in her last appearance in 2019 when she was an 18-year-old qualifier ranked No.65. She went on to beat Caroline Wozniacki in the Round of 32 and left a lasting impression against Naomi Osaka in her next match despite falling in straight sets.
"Remembering that, I can see how much work I put in and how different I feel right now," Swiatek told reporters Saturday at Media Day in Toronto. "Every practice back then I was studying and seeing how I'm going to feel, seeing who I can play, who is too strong for me.
"These two matches that I played against Caroline Wozniacki and Naomi are the two matches that made me feel like I can do something."
Aside from tapping into the good memories of Toronto, Swiatek is relieved to be back on stable ground. After competing on the grass at Wimbledon, Swiatek hit the hard courts to train before shifting back to clay to compete at her home event in Warsaw. The transition was tricky. Swiatek narrowly lost to eventual champion Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals.
Toronto is the sixth WTA 1000 tournament of the season. Swiatek has won every WTA 1000 tournament she has played in this year, with titles in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami and Rome. Those wins came during her 37-match win streak, which ended on the grass at Wimbledon.
Swiatek says all the stats and statistics around The Streak are behind her.
"I know there are many players who did even more, but I'm pretty proud of what I did in the first part of the season," Swiatek said. "I hope this gives me some freedom to play freely because I don't have to prove anything. On the other hand, it can also pressure me, so I'm just trying not to think about what happened but prepare for what's coming."
Even with her 2022 form, Swiatek still has land to conquer this summer. In her career, she has yet to progress past the Round of 16 at the three biggest tournaments of the US Open Series, Canada, Cincinnati and the US Open.
Currently, Swiatek sits firmly atop both the WTA Rankings (she leads No.2 Anett Kontaveit by nearly 4,000 points) and the Porsche Race to the WTA Finals (she leads No.2 Ons Jabeur by more than 4,300 points), which should give her plenty of margin to tinker with her game in a competition setting, something she says would bring long-term gains.
"I just hope I'm not going to be only focused on winning, winning, winning because I want to also improve some stuff in my game," Swiatek said. "We had time to practice a little bit more after Roland Garros and after Wimbledon. So I hope that I'll implement those things."