MELBOURNE, Australia -- World No.1 Iga Swiatek confirmed she is fit and ready to go for the first Slam of the season at the Australian Open.
The Polish star is set to get under tournament underway on Monday, kicking off the night session on Rod Laver Arena. She will face a familiar foe in Germany's Jule Niemeier. Ranked No.68, Niemeier is coming off the biggest season of her career, where she made the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.
The last time the two faced off, Niemeier came within a set of derailing Swiatek's title run at the US Open. In the Round of 16, Swiatek rallied from a set down to win 2-6, 6-4, 6-0.
"You saw how intense that match was, how tough," Swiatek told reporters at Media Day on Saturday. "It's not going to be easy. But on the other hand, any match at a Grand Slam is always more intense and more stressful than other tournaments. I'll be ready for it.
"It's nice also that we played not so long ago, so I can take a lot from that match. Now I know how her ball feels on the racquet. But she has the same.
"So we'll see."
Don't expect to see a brand-new Swiatek on the court on Monday. Team Swiatek spent the pre-season working on fine-tuning her game rather than complicating it. Coming off her sparkling 2022 season, which saw her engineer a century-best 37-match win streak and win two of the four Slams, Swiatek's philosophy as she starts her year is simple: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
"I would say the differences are going to be smaller," Swiatek said. "I think it's normal because when you get to the point where your ball is pretty fast, it's not like you can make it even faster because you're going to kind of lose control. There are kind of limits in terms of that.
"For me, it's all about staying kind of solid and actually not changing a lot. It worked, so why would I change a lot?"
"[If you look at] the greatest players that are consistent throughout their whole careers, it's not like Novak changed a lot in his game since a few years ago. I think it matters to be able to just be consistent with the best game you have."
Swiatek faces Niemeier at 7:00 p.m. on Monday night. The winner will face either Panna Udvardy or Camila Osorio in the second round.