BEIJING -- Iga Swiatek is embracing her return to the role of being a part of the chasing pack on the Hologic WTA Tour. But the World No.2 says she's in no rush to reclaim the World No.1 ranking.
Coming off a quarterfinal appearance in Tokyo last week, Swiatek is set to make her tournament debut at the China Open. Seeded No.2, she will open her campaign against Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Having ceded the No.1 ranking to Aryna Sabalenka at the US Open last month, the 22-year-old says she's acclimated quickly to her new role as the hunter.
"I think it's a little bit easier to come back to the mindset of chasing somebody because that's what we've been doing our whole lives," Swiatek told reporters in Beijing. "There's only one person who's at No.1. I think this was harder to get used to last season.
"But honestly, it doesn't really matter for me because after US Open, I knew I'm going to drop to second position. I stopped thinking about rankings at all because I felt like there's some baggage off my shoulders. I could focus more on just working and kind of getting back to the more peaceful and normal rhythm of practicing."
Swiatek enters Beijing still leading the Hologic WTA Tour in match wins with a 57-11 record this season. She is the co-leader in titles alongside US Open champion Coco Gauff, tallying four on the year. She has already qualified for her third consecutive WTA Finals.
Now that her 75-week reign at the top is over, Swiatek can fully embrace the concept of just playing with an eye toward long-term improvement.
"It's different because you're just focusing on the future, not on defending something," Swiatek said. "I'm kind of using that.
"But overall I'm also worried that it's the last tournaments of the season, so I'm not going to be 100 percent fresh. My main goal is to do some stuff differently on court in terms of the technique and tactics, to develop as a player, not really chase points or rankings."
More from Beijing:
- US Open champ Gauff ready to get back to work
- From 'Daughter of China' to World No.1, Sabalenka returns to China
- Draw analysis: Rybakina and Zheng to clash in Round 1
As promised after her fourth-round loss to Jelena Ostapenko at the US Open, Swiatek got a two-week training block with her team before the Asian Swing. Given her busy playing schedule this year and a pair of injuries derailing her training program, practice blocks have been rare for the Pole.
"I realized how much work I have to do in pre-season because there are a lot of things I want to improve," Swiatek said. "My coach also has a good plan. Sometimes it's not possible to do all of that in two weeks. But we kind of started doing it.
"I don't know how it's going to look on matches obviously, because it's totally different story," Swiatek said. "I was feeling a little bit rusty in Tokyo because after that reset, after three weeks without playing tournaments, you can feel like that a little bit.
"But, yeah, it doesn't really matter for me. I'll just do my best no matter what."