Iga Swiatek shows appreciation for Rafael Nadal with unbelievably respectful move

Swiatek grew up idolizing Nadal and her respect for the Spaniard has always been at the highest possible level.

by Dzevad Mesic
Iga Swiatek shows appreciation for Rafael Nadal with unbelievably respectful move
© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Iga Swiatek showed some major respect and appreciation for Rafael Nadal after her latest French Open victory as the 22-year-old Pole refused to declare herself "the Queen of Clay" and made it clear she didn't want to be called that way.

On Monday, world No. 1 Swiatek cruised past Leolia Jeanjean 6-1 6-2 to set up a French Open second-round showdown versus fellow four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka. By beating Jeanjean, three-time French Open champion Swiatek improve to a lifetime 29-2 at Roland Garros. 

Since Nadal - the King of Clay was scheduled on Court Suzanne Lenglen after Swiatek's match - an on-court interviewer asked the Pole if she could be called the Queen of Clay from now on. Swiatek, who grew up idolizing Nadal and dreaming she could one day be winning on the biggest stage, made sure to provide the most respectful answer possible. 

“I think it’s too early, for sure I’m really proud of these achievements, this has always been my favorite surface. For sure I’ll be watching Rafa’s match. Comparing him to me, I’m not at that level, I still have many things to prove," Swiatek answered.

Iga Swiatek and Rafael Nadal
Iga Swiatek and Rafael Nadal © Getty Images Sport - Jamie Squire

Swiatek happy with her current form ahead of the Osaka match

Swiatek has been absolutely outstanding over the last couple of weeks as she won back-to-back WTA 1000 titles in Madrid and Rome before coming to the French Open to defend her title. 

“it feels like home here. Hopefully, I’m going to be here as long as possible," Swiatek added.

“These last tournaments gave me a lot and I managed to play tennis in any conditions and under any circumstances. Every tournament is different and the next chapter.”

Against Osaka, Swiatek will be playing for the third time. Previously, Osaka won their first meeting in 2019 Toronto while Swiatek ended on the winning side in the 2022 Miami final. 

While Osaka has multiple Grand Slam titles, Swiatek has established herself as an absolutely dominant force on clay and therefore the Pole undoubtedly enters their match as the big favorite considering her recent form and the fact that the Japanese hasn't had much success on clay so far in her career.

Iga Swiatek Rafael Nadal