MASON, Cincinnati -- You’d be hard-pressed to classify Iga Swiatek’s recent results as a slump, but the fact of the matter is she has now gone three straight events without a title.
And while in the bigger picture that doesn’t seem like reason for concern, consider this is a player who earlier this season rolled through six straight tournaments without as much as a single loss. Four of those titles came at WTA 1000 events, along with her run through the Roland Garros field, where she dropped only one set in seven matches.
Western & Southern Open: Scores | Draw | Order of play
A victim of her own success? Perhaps, but the larger answer is in Swiatek’s full-scale approach.
“I'm trying to look long term at whole process and maybe think [where I want to be] in the next season,” Swiatek said Monday during her pre-tournament press session at the Western & Southern Open. “It's more my team who is kind of like convincing me that I should think long term.”
But there is also the immediate matter at hand, which can’t be overlooked. In Cincinnati, Swiatek is looking to become the first player since Serena Williams nine years ago to win seven titles before this month’s US Open.
The bad news: In four main-draw appearances at the Western & Southern Open, Swiatek has never advanced past the Round of 32. The good news? The forecast.
Last week in Toronto, Swiatek fell to eventual runner-up Beatriz Haddad Maia. Afterward, Swiatek conceded the conditions were difficult to navigate.
“Especially, this was the first day that it was so windy,” she said to the press in Toronto. “So I didn't even know that it's going to be like that. And it was hard to even prepare, you know?”
To be fair, Swiatek credited her opponent for adjusting to the conditions better.
“When she was playing with the wind, she was playing really strong balls,” Swiatek said. “And sometimes I was late for them. And on the other hand she was able to put it in.”
This weather this week in Cincinnati looks nothing short of ideal, with temperatures hovering in the mid to high 70s and minimal wind.
“But I'm trying also to learn how to play in different conditions because it's so key, just when you're changing places every week,” Swiatek said. “I feel like first part of the season I was pretty lucky because there were some really windy days and I didn't play during these days.
“So right now I'm also trying to be prepared to anything.”
Speaking of preparing for anything ...
How about a showdown with Serena Williams?
"I would love to just to see how it is to see her on the other side of the net,” Swiatek said.
On Monday, Swiatek told the press she remembers watching Williams on TV growing up. That at the time, it was surreal to think about a future in which she and the 23-time Grand Slam champ would be at the same venue, never mind the same court.
Cincinnati draw: Raducanu faces Serena Williams in blockbuster opener
“Just seemed like a different world,” she said.
Swiatek and Williams have never played. And according to the top-ranked player, they’ve never met off the court.
“I have a hard time catching eye contact with Serena,” Swiatek said. “It’s tough because she always had so many people around her, and I'm pretty shy and when I look at her I kind of forget that I'm here as the World No.1.
“I feel like I'm the kid from kindergarten.”
Swiatek, who has an opening-round bye, and Williams are on opposite sides of the draw.