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“Queen of Paris”: Swiatek in the footsteps of Nadal

Poland’s tennis star reigns supreme at the French Open with dominance and humility. She thinks comparisons with Rafael Nadal are exaggerated, but they also flatter her. The numbers and records are breathtaking

When Iga Swiatek’s voice faltered during her victory speech on the Grand Slam stage, Chris Evert whispered something in her ear and Martina Navratilova gave her an encouraging smile. “I got a few tips from the pros, hopefully I’m doing better now,” said the Polish player, who seemed almost a little intimidated surrounded by the two tennis icons.

On the court, however, the top favorite at the French Open had shown a completely different side for two weeks: dominant, self-confident, merciless. This was also the case in her impressive 6:2, 6:1 victory in the final against the underdog Jasmine Paolini from Italy, who had no chance. In an almost frightening dominance for the competition, the 23-year-old became the youngest four-time winner of a Grand Slam tournament on clay. “There is only one Queen of Paris!” wrote the Polish newspaper “Fakt”.

“For me, he’s above everyone, he’s a total legend “

No wonder that parallels have long been drawn with the great clay court king Rafael Nadal. Swiatek thinks the comparisons with the 14-time French Open winner are somewhat exaggerated: “For me, he’s above everyone, he’s a total legend.” But it is “cool” and makes her “proud to be mentioned in the same sentence as Nadal”.

It also flatters the five-time Grand Slam tournament winner because the Spaniard is her great role model. “When I was young, I loved the way he looks and the energy he plays with,” Swiatek once told “Tennismagazin”. Just like Nadal in his prime, the world number one doesn’t let herself get rattled even in difficult moments such as when she had match point against Naomi Osaka in the second round.

“We’ll see in 14 years whether the journey is similar “

And there is another thing he has in common with Nadal. “He is humble and has remained the same guy he was before he won so many titles,” said Swiatek. People from the tennis circus have similar things to say about Swiatek, who has no airs and graces despite her great successes. During her victory speech, for example, she did not forget to wish the beaten Paolini good luck for her doubles final on Sunday.

Swiatek, who had also previously won the prestigious Masters 1000 tournaments on clay in Madrid and Rome, at least does not want to rule out a similarly long reign as Nadal in Paris: “We’ll see in 14 years whether the journey is similar. “

Swiatek overtakes Steffi Graf

The numbers and records are already breathtaking. It was Swiatek’s third triumph in a row at Stade Roland Garros, a feat previously only achieved by two other players in the tournament’s history: Belgian Justine Henin (2005 to 2007) and Serbian Monica Seles (1990 to 1992). With her 21st consecutive victory in a French Open match, she also overtook tennis icon Steffi Graf in this category.

“I love this court and can’t wait to come here every year,” said Swiatek, concluding her victory speech on Court Philippe Chatrier with the words: “Thank you, see you next year.” It must have sounded like a threat to her rivals.

But the good news for Coco Gauff, Aryna Sabalenka and Co. is: Swiatek has not made it past the quarter-finals at Wimbledon on grass so far.

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