Iga Swiatek's admiration for Rafael Nadal is no secret. During maiden Grand Slam winning run at the 2020 French Open, Swiatek repeatedly asserted she was a huge fan of the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
Aside from her incredible composure during the Roland Garros fortnight, one of the aspects of Iga Swiatek's game that caught a lot of attention was her style of play.
The Pole plays a unique brand of tennis, hitting the ball with heavy topspin, especially on her forehand side. Swiatek also has a lot of variety in her game, frequently using drop shots and net approaches which showcase her all-round athleticism and shot-making ability.
Now in an interview with German publication Tennis Magazin, the 19-year-old has provided an insight into how her unique style of play was developed, and what impact Rafael Nadal has had on her game.
"I didn't watch tennis too much (tennis) when I was young," Swiatek said. "The only player who fascinated me was Rafael Nadal. I mainly watched men's tennis and Rafael Nadal’s matches."
"I guess I copied my style of play from him," she added. "I like to hit the balls with a lot of topspin. My first trainer also told me that it was unusual for a girl to play with topspin. He advised me to focus on it because one day it will be a great strength."
Iga Swiatek further revealed that growing up she didn't play a lot with women, which forced her to imitate the styles of play that were more common among men.
"I play a lot with men because there aren't that many women in Poland either," Swiatek said. "This allows me to develop faster as a player."
Rafael Nadal is humble and has stayed the same guy he was before winning so many titles: Iga Swiatek
During the interview Iga Swiatek also talked about Rafael Nadal's humility, which is another of the Spaniard's qualities that she is a big fan of.
The 19-year-old, who is through to the second round of this week's WTA Adelaide International, claimed that Rafael Nadal's down-to-earth nature despite his unparalleled success on the court is worthy of respect.
"Now that I know him not only as a player but also as a person, I respect him even more as a person," Iga Swiatek said. "He's humble and has stayed the same guy he was before winning so many titles. When I was young, I loved the way he looked and the energy he plays with."