Poland's Iga Swiatek has been the breakout player of this year's French Open, which one Polish newspaper jokingly labelled 'Poland Garros'. The 19-year-old has bulldozed her way through to the final of the tournament without dropping a set, and will meet Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin for the title on Saturday.
Swiatek has been gaining a lot of fans with each passing match this fortnight. Players as well as tennis pundits have been heaping lavish praise on the teenager, not only for her style of play but also for her ability to remain calm and steady under pressure.
Mats Wilander is the latest to hop on to the Iga Swiatek bandwagon, and the Swede even went as far as comparing the Pole's game to that of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Iga Swiatek plays close to the baseline, like Novak Djokovic: Mats Wilander
Mats Wilander, a former seven-time Grand Slam champion and now a tennis commentator, is thoroughly impressed by Swiatek's ability to take advantage of her opponent's short balls. Wilander believes that is something the Pole shares with 17-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic, who also plays close to the baseline and pounces on anything short that comes his way.
"Her basic game reminds me of Novak Djokovic, who plays close to the baseline. If you don’t hit the ball well then Novak Djokovic will take the short ball and hurt you with it," Wilander told Eurosport.
"She is very natural, not risky either, because she hits the ball with so much spin and so much margin. Even though she hits the ball with so much power, she also hits with margin. She doesn’t have any weaknesses at all, not one. I think she is going to be one to look out for in the next few years – maybe the one," he added.
Wilander also believes Swiatek could be the player to dominate women's tennis in the years to come, given how she seems to have all the bases covered at such a young age.
"I think Iga can dominate on all courts," he said. "She has a great serve, she obviously returns unbelievably well and when the ball is in play she hits with so much power and topspin that she is a different player than all of the other women. She has an incredible variety in her game."
"I think that the technical aspects of her game can be worked on. Now it’s just about improving the technique especially the backhand volley, but she moves well, she’s strong, she hits hard, she hits with spin. I think she is there to be a Grand Slam champion, multiple times. I genuinely believe that Iga can be the one. I haven't seen a player as young as her as complete when it comes to constructing points and going forwards, taking the ball early," Wilander went on.
There's also a chance that both Iga Swiatek and Novak Djokovic could end up as Roland Garros champions this year. The Serb is through to the men's semifinals and will play Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in Sunday's final.
However, Swiatek herself would be hoping that Rafael Nadal, the long-time rival of Novak Djokovic, will add to his record 12 French Open titles on Sunday. The Pole admitted to being a big fan of the Spaniard earlier in the week.Published 09 Oct 2020, 16:35 IST