After giving up the WTA 1000 in Madrid at the last minute due to physical problems, Iga Swiatek is once again the protagonist of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, of which she is the defending champion. The world number 1 is already coming off a victory on clay, the one in Stuttgart on April 24 against Aryna Sabalenka, and therefore she arrives full of expectations at the tournament in Rome.
The trip to the capital got off to a great start for the young player from Warsaw, who demolished Romanian Elena Gabriela Ruse 6-3 6-0 in her first-round match and now awaits the former WTA No.1, Victoria Azarenka (victorious over Golubic and Osorio Serrano in the first two rounds).
Playing a high-level tournament therefore acquires priority importance for Iga Swiatek as well, and especially in view of her illustrious appointment with Roland Garros. Former ATP No. 1 Jim Courier reflected on the Pole's chances at the French Open, even drawing comparisons to Rafael Nadal, the absolute dominator in Paris.
"She's the dominant favourite," Courier told Tennis Channel Live. "She is what Nadal has been for many years. There is always turbulence in the women's draw. Always expect the unexpected." After resigning from the WTA 1000 in Madrid to recover her breath and discomfort, the number 1 in the world, Iga Swiatek, is ready to surprise everyone in Rome with a clear objective: to win again.
The Polish tennis player, defending the title at the Foro Italico, began 2022 by winning three category 1000 tournaments in as many participations (Doha, Indian Wells and Miami), as well as the WTA 500 in Stuttgart.
Rafa wants to win his 14th Roland Garros title
Rafael Nadal kickstarted his title defense in Rome with a straightforward 6-3, 6-1 win over John Isner in the second round on Wednesday.
"She's doing amazing things," Nadal said. "Playing amazing and winning every single event she plays, I think the last four in a row. Winning Indian Wells and Miami in a row, it's something difficult. I'm just happy for her.
She is a very spontaneous and natural girl. It is good to have girls like her, good people like her having success." He admitted to being in a "rush" to regain full fitness in order to be ready for the claycourt Major.
"Well, I am in a little bit of a rush, I have to find the best feelings as soon as possible," he continued. "I need to recover things that I missed because of the injury, of course. I need to work as much as I can to be ready in a couple of weeks. But at the same time, the medium term, long term, I need to keep going."