"Don't think it matters" - Iga Swiatek plays down Naomi Osaka ranking difference; exercises caution ahead of French Open 2R thriller

Iga Swiatek (L), Naomi Osaka (R) (Image Source: Getty)
Iga Swiatek (L), Naomi Osaka (R) (Image Source: Getty)

Iga Swiatek believes her and Naomi Osaka’s positions in the rankings won’t play a part when the pair lock horns in the second round of the 2024 French Open on Wednesday, May 29.

Swiatek and Osaka are gearing up for an electrifying contest after punching their tickets to the second round in Paris. The latter kicked off her campaign on Sunday, May 26, edging out Lucia Bronzetti 6-1, 4-6, 7-5. Meanwhile, Swiatek began her title defense with an emphatic 6-1, 6-2 victory over French local Leolia Jeanjean the following day.

Iga Swiatek’s atypical meeting with Naomi Osaka in the second round is because the former World No. 1, who is on a comeback trail after maternity leave, is ranked No. 134 and is thus unseeded at the Grand Slam event.

The French Open clash will mark the duo’s third meeting on the tour – they’ve split their wins in the previous two clashes, with the Pole winning their most recent one in the 2022 Miami Open final.

About their upcoming match, Swiatek, who became the World No. 1 for the first time after beating Osaka in Miami, said:

"Obviously our tennis has changed since Miami 2022, and also our position as well, a little bit," she said in her post-match press conference.

The Pole, however, opined that ranking won’t determine the outcome of their match, pointing at the fellow four-time Grand Slam champion’s rich resume.

"But I don’t think it matters on the court. I’ll prepare like for any other match but for sure, nowadays, in women’s draw you can play Grand Slam champions early in the tournament and it is pretty tricky, you know, these players are really experienced," she noted.

Iga Swiatek said that facing Naomi Osaka won’t be “easy.”

"They also achieved many great things. So they can have, you know, a bigger sense of belief, I would say as well. So for sure it’s not going to be easy. I will prepare tactically and I’ll know more tomorrow when we do that," she added.

Iga Swiatek on Naomi Osaka before French Open 2024 clash: "I'm just glad that she came back"

Naomi Osaka (L) and Iga Swiatek pictured at the 2022 Miami Open (Image Source: Getty)
Naomi Osaka (L) and Iga Swiatek pictured at the 2022 Miami Open (Image Source: Getty)

Before their Miami Open face-off, Iga Swiatek and Naomi Osaka locked horns in the Round of 16 of the 2019 Canadian Open, with Osaka winning in straight sets. The French Open will thus be their first meeting on clay.

"She’s a great person and her game style is pretty fun to watch as well. I haven’t actually played against Naomi on clay so we’ll see how that’s going to go," Iga Swiatek said in the press conference.
"We need to prepare tactically for sure. But all these matches that we played on hard court were always really intense and tough."

Swiatek added that she is happy to see Naomi Osaka back on the tour after welcoming her first child.

"I’m just glad that she came back and she’s playing more tournaments that before the break. And yeah, happy that she’s playing well, as well," she said.

Iga Swiatek and Naomi Osaka are chasing their fifth Grand Slam title at the French Open. The Pole, who is the two-time defending champion, is chasing her fourth at the claycourt Major alone. Osaka, meanwhile, hasn’t yet won a Grand Slam outside of hardcourts.

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