Iga Swiatek is relishing the opportunity to compete at the French Open as the favourite, and has admitted she feels “much more calm” at the prospect of challenging for the tournament she won in 2020.
The 20-year-old is unbeaten since February - a run that has stretched to 28 matches - tasted victory in the WTA 1000 tournament on clay courts in Rome earlier this month, her fifth consecutive success following wins at the same rank events in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami, and at the WTA 500 in Stuttgart.
Ahead of the upcoming Roland Garros - where she was knocked out at the quarter-final stage last year by Maria Sakkari - Swiatek has revealed she “feels special” at the courts in Paris.
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“I am definitely thinking about the atmosphere on the courts,” she told Eurosport.
“I always love to come here and I often remember my first Junior Grand Slam, which was a great experience. Then I actually decided that this is the life I would like to have and I will devote a lot to be the top participant of the series. That's why Roland Garros is a breakthrough tournament for me, where I learned a lot.
It’s been two years since her first major triumph, where she was ranked 54th in the world at the time, but the new world No.1 - and youngest player ranked in the top ten - admitted there’s a different feel to the tournament going in as the favourite.
"I certainly feel different, but I would say it has a rather positive effect.
“I am glad that I can use all my experiences. The fact that I already scored so many points makes me already have a good season and I don't feel so much pressure when it comes to the result. I would like to continue the work that I have been doing and that is what I will focus on. There is a great atmosphere at the Grand Slam, but it can also make it a bit more pressured, so I will try to do everything step by step and focus on each subsequent match.
“This time I'm more relaxed. I managed to prove to myself and to others that I can be one of the best. Before, I didn't have that much confidence. This year I feel much more at ease,” she added.
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On the best streak of her life, questions have been asked whether she can keep up her red-hot form in a Grand Slam to win a second Roland Garros in three years.
“I haven't played in a Grand Slam tournament since my streak started. We'll see if what I did before, this time will be enough. Several times during those tournaments I won I was stressed with my form. But I always tried to focus on tennis.
“In Paris, I don't set any goals for myself. I just want to play match after match.
I know my streak may end soon. I don't want to be heartbroken when that happens.
“It's healthy to be aware of this. I am satisfied with what I have already achieved this season.”
Swiatek also admitted her attitude has not changed in response to becoming world No.1, and revealed she “didn’t care” where she ranked.
“When I was climbing the ranks, I did not look where I was. I didn't care if I was in the 100th or 50th place. I just kept pushing on. It's a bit different now, because people treat my first place in the ranking differently. The world has changed, that's for sure.
“However, I feel like I'm still the same person and competitor. I know that I am still learning and I have a lot to improve. This is the basis for me.”
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