The French Open women’s tournament has often been surprise winners, but it’s hard to see anyone other than Iga Swiatek lift the Suzanne Lenglin Cup on Parisian clay this year.
The 20-year-old Polish player has it all – and in recent months she has been simply unbeatable.
Having triumphed at Roland Garros in 2020, she already has the experience of conquering everything in front of her on red dirt.
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When Swiatek unexpectedly grabbed the world number one spot after Ash Barty’s shock retirement in March, it looked like she kindled something inside the pole as she would hit Roland Garros riding a stunning 28-game winning streak.
It’s the longest winning streak since Serena Williams’s 34-game winning streak in 2013. It’s also a far cry from Martina Navratilova’s all-time record 74 from 1984, but such is Swiatek’s dominance on the slowest surface that it would be a huge shock if not Seven more wins add to that number in Paris.
Swiatek has also won 40 of her last 41 sets played and is undefeated since losing to former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in Dubai in February.
The 20-year-old has won her last five events, which have included titles in Indian Wells, Miami and Rome.
“I honestly would do the same way I’ve done here, as well as in other leagues,” Swiatek said.
“I will try to do it step by step, just think of the next match like I did in these tournaments.”
If Swiatek wins on June 4, it will be the first time in seven years that the women’s champion isn’t new to the grand slam winners’ circuit.
According to Eurosport tennis analyst Mats Wellander, there will be no room for error in Swiatek.
“If it’s five sets, I would say Ega Swiatek is always the biggest and biggest candidate because the level you’re going to play in more than five sets, you’re always going to be the biggest favourite,” said Wellander, a three-time French Open winner.
“Because it’s three sets, there are a lot of women who can go out and play incredibly for 45 minutes to an hour and in that time they can leave Swiatek 6-3 or a break and all of a sudden we now need a little bit of luck to turn the match around.
“Because it’s three sets, I’d say it’s definitely a favorite, but it’s very difficult to be a consistently favorite on three sets.”
Swiatek has been so hot in recent weeks that it’s hard to see anyone with the ability to challenge her.
The defending champion and world number two Barbora Krezhikova is still recovering from an arm injury while last year’s runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has pulled out of her injury.
Naomi Osaka, who has highlighted the mental struggle athletes experienced when she abruptly withdrew from last year’s championship after a row with organizers over media obligations, could return next week but has an Achilles injury and never got over it. The third floor is here.
Swiatek’s biggest competitor may be Ons Jabeur. The sixth-placed Tunisian won in Madrid – a tournament the Poles chose to skip – but was then defeated in the Rome final by Swiatek.
The war in Ukraine will be on the minds of many players. Russian and Belarusian players will be able to compete in the Roland Garros tournament, but will then have to sit in Wimbledon as All England Club officials have banned competitors from the two countries due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”. Belarus was a major staging area for the invasion.
Swiatek has been attaching a ribbon in the colors of the Ukrainian flag to her hat and will continue to do so.
“I will wear it until the situation improves,” she said.
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